Skip to main content

Full text of "Wonders and food luxuries of the sea .."

See other formats





J v J 

v. ^ 



v 5 ^ 

* ff 1 A 

» A 


^ cv 

9 a i -i 


*<^ <y> r> 


' A 







T H E y S E A . 











The Sea. 

" Murmuring sea, beautiful sea, 
Dark, heaving, boundless, endless and sublime." 

How few there are who realize that the sea is 
aught else than a lonely boundless waste of water, 
to be regarded only with dread, and avoided with 

Comparatively few contemplate it as the teeming 
abode of millions of countless varieties of strange, 
wonderful, living organisms, from the microscopic 
amorphous monad to the unwieldy leviathan, horrid 
octopus and great whale, of the deep; that in these 
waters disport and have as their home the greater 
portion, both in number and variety of species, 
of God's creation, and that these restless waters, 
often unfathomable, are so full of beauty, sublimity 
and life ! 

Science has demonstrated that the sea covers 
nearly three- fourths of the earth's surface, that its 


superficial area is about 146,000,000 of square miles, 
and its contents 778,000,000 of cubic miles, and 
that its average depth is about four miles. 

The bed of the sea is the counterpart of the dry- 
land. In it are high mountains and long valleys, 
and broad plateaus. Upon many of these subma- 
rine plateaus the water is but a few feet in depth, 
while in the deep subaqueous valleys a depth of 
eight miles has been found. 

What a vast expanse and varied home for the 
inhabitants of the sea ! how wonderfully the Crea- 
tor has adapted it to their nature ! how fit an abid- 
ing place for them ! Truly the surface of the 
bottom of the Atlantic Sea is diversified with 
mountain ranges and sublime precipices inconceiv- 
able in grandeur, with their perpendicular fall of 
water over ten miles in height and more than two 
thousand miles in breadth — from New Foundland 
to Ireland, and it is a demonstrable fact that there 
are vast submarine prairies constantly decked in 
gorgeous floral garniture, over which the great 
leviathan and whale and the lesser fishes roam r 
disport and make their home. 

In some regions of the submarine continents, 
crops of golden sheen and fructiferous vines grow 
in inconceivable luxuriance and wave upon the sur- 
face for thousands of square miles, looking to the 
beholders like a vast and boundless prairie of ver- 
dant garniture. 


In the sea are immaculate coral mountains with 
perpendicular escarpments of thousands of feet in 
height, extending for thousands of miles along our 
coast, in which are deep grottoes, caverns and lofty 
arches, with innumerable coral pinnacles, spires and 
domes, that appear like the ornately chiseled inter- 
minable facade of some vast and gorgeous cathe- 
dral, and the beholder will be fascinated and awed 
by the beauty, magnitude and grandeur, and will 
doubtingly ask — could this have been built and so 
adorned by the insect world ? 

The sea is divided into three liquid strata or 
layers of water of differing densities and proper- 
ties. In the lowest stratum or deepest part of the 
sea we find the home chiefly of the Crustacea, such 
as crabs, lobsters and other like species; at a depth 
of five or six hundred feet we enter the domain of 
the invertebrate and vertebrate fishes and the vari- 
ous mollusks ; and the third and superficial stratum 
we find occupied by minute animalculse, mostly 
observable by the microscope. 

To what provision of the Creator do the count- 
less millions of the sea owe their existence and 
subsistence ? What preserves the vast bulk of 
water and maintains its fitness for the support of 
animal life ? Science shows that millions of tons 
of chloiide of sodium or common salt is held in 
solution, and that it contains also magnesia and 
lime, and that even silver to the amount of 2,000,- 
000 tons is constantly floating about in its waters. 


Then come the innumerable currents and tides, 
and the continual agitation from winds that inces- 
santly blow upon some portion of its surface, and 
the unceasing evaporation and uninterrupted con- 
tributions of rain from the clouds. All these 
chemical and physical phenomena, with a thousand 
others, render the sea a fit and beautiful realm or 
abiding place for its inhabitants. 

The color of the sea is not only a form of beauty, 
conveying pleasure to the mind, it is for an all-wise 
purpose, an indispensable function, although the 
depth of the water influences the color materially. 
Thus light green indicates shoal water, the lighter 
the tint the more shallow the depth ; dark blue is 
an indication of vast depth, " off soundings " as 
sailors would say. Latitudes and localities have 
an effect upon the color of the sea. That about 
the Bahama Islands is an exquisite green, looking 
like emerald or malachite; in the region of Madeira 
the sea resembles molten turquoise of inexpressible 
loveliness, fish swimming in it appear transparently 
blue. It is an indisputable fact that the color of 
the water of the sea is imparted to the fish which 
inhabit the particular locality, just as the plumage 
of birds corresponds to the foliage and forests they 
inhabit. Why is this? The similitude in color is 
a protection to them. They are not as noticeable, 
their presence is not as readily betrayed to their 
enemies as if they were of different color. Deep 


swimming fishes are invariably of bluish tint — ex- 
ample the well-known blue-fish. The parrot-fish is 
of a scarlet, as vivid as that of the birds in the for- 
ests of the neighboring land. The mullet is bril- 
liant brown and gold, and the cod is invariably clad 
in Quaker gray. Thus these variously colored 
garbs of these piscatorial gentry of the sea are as 
multi-colored and as varied in cut as those of 
Broadway dandies or the Parisian costumer. 

The temperature of the sea for a certain depth 
corresponds to that of the atmosphere. At great 
depths the temperature falls almost to freezing 
point, and it is beyond question that the tempera- 
ture of the sea has a like effect upon the monsters 
of the deep that it has upon the temperament of 
man. The barracuda of the tropic seas is as fero- 
cious and savage as a tiger, and cannibal cruelty and 
voracity is eclipsed by that of the horrible, treach- 
erous, stealthy sea pirate, the " man-eating shark. " 
The most remarkable trait of this shark is, that 
with all its ferocity, it seldom attacks negroes, who 
swim about in the harbors of West India ports 
amid schools of them fearlessly, but should they 
espie a white man in the water, the latter feels sure 
that the day of judgment is near at hand. 

That some fish are weatherwise there is no doubt, 
just as some land animals have a premonition of 
changes in the weather and the advent of storms, 
viz. : the ground hog, the common hog, chickens 


and water fowl. There surer indication of the 
direction of the wind than betrayed by the move- 
ments of porpoises. When they proceed unswerv- 
ingly in a certain direction, as if bound on a mis- 
sion, ten to one the wind will blow from that point 
of the compass toward which they are making. 

Not only does the sea furnish avast home to the 
myriads of animals that live in and breathe in its 
waters, it is the home of many of the feathered 
denizens of the air, especially of that beautiful, tiny 
mysterious little bird, known as " Mother Carey's 
chicken. " This little bird is reared and makes its 
home ypon the sea, thousands of miles from land. 
It daily, all day long, flits about incessantly; at 
night it roosts upon the raging billows of the sea, 
tucks its little head under its wing and goes to 
sleep amid the roar of the tempest and fury of the 
blast. It makes the great billow its cradle and the 
seething foam its sheet. This little bird is safe and 
fearless, for He who holds these waters in the 
hollow of His hand, bids the tempest do them no 

The sea is the arena of the sublimest phosphor- 
escent and pyrotechnic phenomena exhibited by 
wonderful nature. This phosphorescence is caused 
by countless millions of cyclidina, one 1 2,000th of 
an inch in length. It is not uncommon in tropic 
seas to see the phosphorescent current rushing past 
a ship in a band of light so luminous that one can 


easily read the time of night upon the face of a 
watch, and making a luminous track and the billows, 
as they are dashed aside by the bow of the ship, 
look like broad sheets of ruddy flame. Especially 
is the great Gulf Stream the theatre of sublime 
electrical phenomena. For a continuous inexhaus- 
tible supply of fire-works and pyrotechnic beauties 
it is without a rival. It gives an exhibition upon 
the slightest occasion, and no ship ever crosses that 
wonderful tepid water Rhine of the sea, without 
being flooded with sheets of vivid lightning and a 
seeming terrific bombardment from cloud batteries. 
These are a few of the general beauties and 
wonders of the sea. We will now specially con- 
sider a few of its best known living forms ; organ- 
isms that to a vast extent furnish delicious food and 
luxurious living to millions of the human family, 
and are the material and basis of the greatest 
commercial industries upon the globe. 



The Oystkh. 

THE O YS T E R. n 




Fish and mollusks possess great advantage over 
all other animals in the rapidity with which they mul- 
tiply, the ease with which they can be reared, and 
the inexpensiveness of their propagation and cul- 
tivation by man. Of all the animals subservient 
to the use of man they alone live in an element in 
which they can provide nourishment for them- 
selves unassisted, and make no demands upon his 
aid or resources. Their astonishing reproductive 
powers are notorious. The common pike lays 
hundreds of thousands of eggs in one season, the 
carp and mackerel from a half to one million, the 
plaice six million, the mullet as many as thirteen 
millions, and the oyster countless millions of eggs. 

12 THE O YS T E R. 

In the great cosmogonic scheme or plan there 
are present and apparent, four persistent bas-relief 
ideas or designs, of master types of animal life. 
First, there is the Radiate or star-like type of ani- 
mals and life, as we see in the star- fishes, the corals, 
the sea-anemones, the sea-urchins, all radiating 
from a centre like spokes of a wheel ; secondly, 
there is the articulated type of life or animals, 
consisting of a series of rings articulated or united 
by their edges, more or less movable on each 
other, as exemplified in insects, worms, crabs, lob- 
sters, and indeed all of the Crustacea ; and thirdly, 
the bilateral or two-sided, upper and lower shell, 
or Molluscan type of animals, such as is presented 
in the cuttle-fish, clams, snails and oysters : and 
lastly, we see the vertebrate tyye expressed in 
fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals, including man, 
or life embodied in a form in which an internal 
skeleton is built up into two cavities — one for the 
nervous centres, cerebral and spinal, the other for 
the lodgement of the circulatory, respiratory and 
digestive organs. The vertebrate type, while it is 
the most largely inclusive or comprehensive, is the 
most recent, while on the other hand the most 
ancient forms are the articulate, radiate and mol- 
luscan, to which latter type, as before stated, the 
oyster belongs. 

Almost every one is familiar with the immense 
fecundity of the oyster, a single oyster annually 


depositing several millions of eggs. The writer 
has seen a little branch taken from an artificial bed 
upon which were adherent thousands of small oys- 
ters in all stages of growth from the size of a pin's 
head to that of a split garden pea. This immense 
fecundity is in strict obeyance to an universal law, 
to which there is no exception, viz. : That every 
organic being naturally increases at so high a rate 
that it provides against total extermination, and on 
the other hand if not to some extent destroyed the 
earth would soon be covered by the progeny of a 
single pair ; even slow-breeding man will double in 
twenty-five years, and at this rate if not suppressed 
or curtailed by external exterminating agencies, in 
a few thousand years, there would literally not be 
standing room for his progeny upon the earth. 
The elephant is the longest interval or slowest 
breeder of all known animals, and is capable of 
breeding or producing young at thirty years of 
age, and continues to breed until the female 
reaches ninety years of age. During this long pe- 
riod of sixty years of parturient capacity, only six 
calves or young elephants are born. Even at this 
slow rate of increase, in about seven hundred and 
fifty years, if all were to live, there would be upon 
the earth, nineteen millions of elephants. The 
only difference between organisms which produce 
seeds, eggs, and viviporous offspring by the thou- 
sands, and uniporous and slow breeders, is — the 

i 4 THE O YS T E R . 

slow breeders would require a few years more un- 
der favorable conditions to people either a small or 
a large district. The condor lays two eggs and the 
ostrich twenty, and yet in the same country the 
number of condors predominates. The petrel lays 
but one egg, yet it is the most numerous bird in 
the world. Our common housefly will deposit 
hundreds of eggs, another species, the hippobosca 
only lays one, yet the latter is apparently as nu- 
merous as the former. A large number of eggs is 
of great importance to those species and genera, 
where the necessary amount of food for the species 
is precarious, or which have to depend upon a ra- 
pidly fluctuating amount of it, and the number and 
voracity of their enemies, and to make up for the 
great destruction that inevitably occurs at some 
period of life, and this period of greatest destruc- 
tion is during the ova, larva and infantile or inde- 
fensible state or condition of the being, consequentl}' 
if many eggs are destroyed, many must be pro- 
duced to meet this contingency, or the species will 
in a short time become utterly extinct. 

While this vast destruction by accident and 
predaceous enemies of the ova, larva, and young 
beings of organic beings, inevitably occurs for the 
wise purpose of keeping their number within pro- 
per limits, they as mature organisms have impen- 
etrable and resisting tutaminse and armor, as we 
see in shells of crustaceans and mollusca ; being 

THE O YS TER . 15 

deprived of organs of locomotion, or other means 
of escape from the assaults of rapacious and pre- 
dacious enemies, and their powerful jaws of trench- 
ant teeth ; they are supplied with dense hard shells, 
formed of successive layers of calcareous laminae, 
impenetrable and refractory to the teeth of more 
powerful, inimical, aquatic animals, and it is another 
instance of creative wisdom, that the structure of 
every organic being is related in the most essential 
yet often hidden manner to that of all the other 
organic beings with which it is obliged or likely to 
come in contact, or from which it has to escape for 
self-preservation, or which it is destined to pursue 
as prey, or with which it is forced to come into 
competition for food or residence. 

Thus it can be clearly seen, that the stationary 
molluscous lowly oyster is not unprovided for, for 
his propagation and safety. While it has no or- 
gans for locomotion, (some naturalists assert that 
he is capable of motion), or of an offensive char- 
acter, he is amply provided for to insure his wel- 
fare and existence, to protect him from extermina- 
tion by the ruthless and voracious foes that prey 
upon his luscious body, and these defences, as has 
already been indicated, consists of his thick multi- 
laminous refractory shell, the muddy coloring of 
the shell, corresponding in color with that of the 
bed of the river or sea in which he may be 
found, and chiefly his amazing fecundity. While 

16 THE O YS T ER . 

millions of their eggs are daily destroyed by pred- 
aceous crustaceans and piscatorial gourmands, yet 
sufficient escape and mature, to keep the species 
almost constantly up to an uniform numerical 

As an article of food for man, but few produc- 
tions of the vegetable or animal kingdoms are of 
greater importance, not on account of the general 
elements of food which they contain, but on ac- 
count of a specific element ; no animal either 
aquatic or terrestrial contains so large a proportion 
of phosphorus in their composition, and it is a 
well-ascertained fact, that phosphorus is one of 
the most important constituents of the bones and 
tissues of mammalian organisms, and that in pro- 
portion to the supply of phosphorus to the human 
brain especially, will cerebral energy and mental 
activity be manifested. 

To most persons the generation and propaga- 
tion of the oyster is an insoluble mystery. 

When we consider the low link in the long 
chain of creation that the oyster supplies, we might 
regard it contemptuously, and not very remotely 
they were considered to exist by spontaneous 

It is the most difficult thing a scientist can un- 
dertake, to make people believe that every living 
form we see does not owe its existence to spontan- 
eity, but that every vegetable and animal existence 


and form is the offspring of two individuals, or of 
parents. Therefore every oyster is descended from 
parent oysters, male and female, and such has been 
its genealogy, long before the earth was green 
with garniture, or was imprinted by the foot-prints 
of man, consequently such defamation or slander 
must be attributable to the stupidity of ignorant 

Owing to the inchoate state of science the 
oyster was for a long time unassigned to either the 
vegetable or animal kingdoms, he was totally an 
outsider, without origin or parentage, an unclassi- 
fied nondescript. Plato looked upon the oyster as 
the typical " Know-nothing" of creation and taught 
that ignorant people were transformed into them 
after death. Upon his first appearance in the 
waters of the globe, his only associates were the 
star fishes and clams, although no close intimacies, 
no friendly visiting between them have ever been 
essayed. Over these the oyster claims superiori- 
ty, feeling well assured that he is held in the high- 
est estimation, alike by the ignorant, learned, lowly 
and aristocratic of the land, indeed universally 

However lowly the oyster may be, his complex 
anatomical structure manifests a beautiful adapta- 
tion to the creature's necessities. The thin layer 
of flesh lining the interior surfaces of the two 
shells is known as the " mantle," and it is reflected 

18 THE O YS TE R . 

over or envelopes the entire body of the oyster ; it 
is truly the oyster's cloak or pallium. This man- 
tle apart from being a beautiful and elegant cloak 
for the oyster is instrumental in procuring the food 
with which he is to be nourished. These mem- 
branous mantles are fringed at their edges with 
rows of tiny cilia or soft fleshy hairs of extreme 
delicacy. They are the oyster's fingers or organs 
of touch, and this sense of touch resident in these 
cilia of the mantle is exquisitely acute. The in- 
cessant motion of these cilia keep up a constant 
current in the water that surrounds the oyster, and 
this stream or current brings with it the spores and 
animaculse which constitute the oyster's food, and 
which are carried away back to the oyster's mouth 
located near the hinge. The tentacles could very 
properly be called the "lips." They are the organs 
for discriminating the food, the oyster's tongue or 
gustatory apparatus. 

The gills are the lungs or respiratory organs, as 
in fish. The heart like any other animal has its 
auricles and ventricles, and beats with regular pul- 
sations, and a complete circulating apparatus — 
arteries and veins are to be seen to perfection. 
The color of the oyster's blood is a pale bluish 
white, it may be called opaline, and the circulation 
and cardiac pulsations are clearly visible. Here, 
also is his liver, which is always a large organ in 
all kinds of shell fish. The bile secreted by the 

THE O YS T E R . 19 

oyster's liver is appetizing, gustatory and digestive, 
it excites the salivary glands, and causes a free 
pouring out of gastric juice in those who eat oys- 
ters. The large strong muscle connects the two 
shells, and by alternate contraction and relaxation 
shuts and opens the. valves. 

The oyster might by the ignorant be accused 
of an aimless, indolent life — such is not the case, 
he is incessantly separating from the circumfluent 
waters the,lime they hold in solution, thereby col- 
lecting and making available one of the most val- 
uable constituents of all soil and crops that grow 
upon the land, and indirectly contributing to the 
welfare and happiness of every land organism, 
whether animal or plant. 

Destroy entirely this almost lowest of links in 
nature's great chain, and every spear of grass, every 
forest tree, crop and animal, upon the earth, from 
the minutest to the greatest, would feel the loss, 
if not utterly perish. 

With the exception of the ubiquity of the Jewish 
nation, no living organisms are so cosmopolitan or 
cover so vast a proportion of the world's entire 
surface as the oyster 

Like some people the oyster is of amazing fe- 
cundity, a single female oyster will lay millions of 
eggs, from one to two millions, and a most striking 
resemblance between oysters and the human pop- 
ulation is the excess of female oysters over males. 



The sex of the oyster is as decided and cogniza- 
ble as in animals of other organization. When 
the female oyster ejects her eggs, they rise to the 
surface of the water, and come in contact with the 
simultaneously drifting, fructifying secretion of the 
male. Immediately upon this contact of the 
female ova and the vivifying male secretion, they — 
the ova — attach themselves to any object that may 

The Anatomy and Internal Organs of the Oyster, 

12 11 10 9 13 

1 Mouth, 2 Tentacles, 3 Heart, 4 Muscle, 5 Mantle, 6 Gills,, 
7 Lower Valve, 8 Mantle, 9 Anus, L0 Intestines, 11 Liver, 12 
Mingei 13 Right Mantle. 



present itself. Upon this, they remain adherent 
and grow. 

If any one should doubt the animal organism of 
the oyster, he may have proof of the fact by an 
examination of his anatomy. He will see that he 
is possessed of all the organs of the higher orders 

The Spinal Cord and Nervous System of the Oyster. 

44 B" is the posterior ganglion or the 44 large brain," 44 C C " 
are the branchiae or gills. 44 D D" is the spinal chord. 44 A A" 
is the lesser brain, and 44 E " is the connecting lever between 
them. "F" nervous filaments supplying gills and mantle- 
All animals that travel or are endowed with locomotion have 
a locomotive ganglion or centre. This ganglion is absent in 
the oyster, and for the reason, as he does not travel, he does 
not possess such a functional centre or apparatus for locomo- 
tion. Oysters are ej^eless and consequently blind, but this 
optical absence is amply compensated for by his exquisite 
sensitiveness to all impressions. 

22 THE O YS TER . 

of animals, mouth, lungs, stomach, intestinal canal 
and genital organs. He has a nervous system 
and a muscular system. What is usually called 
the heart is a strong muscular attachment between 
the two shells that enclose him, and if touched with 
an irritant, he quivers and instantly closes his shell 
for protection, and will, by a similar act, manifest 
alarm at a sudden commotion of the surrounding 

The young oyster, when a month old, is the 
size of a large pea; and it will average i inch of 
growth every two months. At six months it is an 
inch or more in length, and at three years it has 
attained its usual full size, the same we see in the 
markets. The shells of oysters appear to be a 
series of shells overlapping each other like tiles, 
each layer representing a year's growth, and the 
whole series indicates the number of years the 
oyster has lived ; just as the number of consecutive 
rings in the trunk of a tree, the number of teeth in 
a horse, or the number of rings upon the horns of 
cattle, indicate the number of years they have lived. 
The capability of the oyster to repair his shell, if 
broken or destroyed, is well known, though requir- 
ing a longer time than the Crustacea, the crab, for 

The oyster has regular habits. He eats regu- 
larly, twice in every twenty-four hours, upon the 
flood or incoming of the tides, and immediately 

THE O YS T E R . 23 

thereafter betakes himself to meditation and a 
postprandial siesta. 

A Feat of Jugglery. 

The sexes are so marked that those familiar 
with them, can readily distinguish them at sight, 
the females being in excess of the males. The 
spat at first appears to belong to the vegetable 
rather than to the animal kingdom ; but as it de- 
velops in size, the animal nature exhibits a more 
vigorous and decided character. In a few weeks 
it is capable of a feeble, independent motion that 
gradually increases, until the shells are perfectly 
formed, when it attains the power to open and 
close them. 

The object to which the floating spawn is most 
likely to fasten is the shell of another old oyster, 
and this accounts for the fact that, while single 
oysters only are found in the artificial beds, they 

24 THE O YS TE R. 

exist in clusters in the natural beds, but any object 
may be utilized by the spat for that purpose. 

The spawn gradually changes its rotund shape, 
and spreads upon the substance which it adheres, 
forming a white spot that in time assumes the ap- 
pearance of a thin, flat shell, though it is soft and 
friable. It is now called a spat, and is covered by 
a delicate skin that grows thicker and harder until 
it becomes a shell. The spat is much sought after 

Spat or Young Oyster just hatched from the Egg, magnified 
3,000 times. 

by fishes, crabs and turtles, and numbers are thus 
destroyed. The shell begins to harden when the 
spat attains half an inch to an inch in diameter, and 
thickens with the growth of the oyster ; at one 
year old it is an inch to an inch and a half in di- 
ameter, and its shell is sufficiently hard to place it 
out of danger from most of its enemies. It may 
now be used as a plant, though greater size and 
more age are desirable for stocking artificial beds. 
Although ranked by naturalists in a very low 
scale of animal existence, the oyster is not without 

THE O YS T E R . 25 

certain physical power, and sufficient instinct for 
self-preservation under ordinary circumstances, as 
illustrated in instances where the floating spawn 
has attached to the inside of the shell of an old 
oyster while open for feeding. Were the spat 
allowed to remain there, it would soon so increase 
in size as to cause serious inconvenience to the old 
oyster, and eventually destroy its life. But as soon 
as it attaches in dangerous proximity to the mouth 
of the shell, the old oyster works it or blows it from 
its position, and it finds another object, or it fastens 
to another place on the same shell. It is no un- 
common occurrence to find in the natural beds 
large central oysters literally encrusted with those 
of smaller size, so arranged as to demonstrate the 
foregoing fact. 

From the great prolificacy of the female oyster 
it might readily be inferred that the increase would 
far exceed the demands. A single female oyster 
contains about two million ova, all of which, under 
favorable circumstances, should develop into per- 
fect oysters. But in deep water most circumstances 
are unfavorable to the existence of the ova and 
spat. They are beset by enemies and casualties 
until the shells of the young become sufficiently 
formed and hardened to afford protection. 

In the Chesapeake, as in all the oyster waters of 
this country, the increase is altogether from the 
natural beds, where the ova and young cannot be 

26 THE O YS T E R . 

protected. In the deep water the temperature is 
often too cold for development of the ova, and even 
when developed many of the delicate spats perish. 
Planted oysters are not allowed to remain undis- 
turbed a sufficient length of time to enable them to 
breed. In the most favorable breeding localities, 
as in Tangiers Sound, the beds grow to such thick- 
ness that the underlying oysters are destroyed by 
the superincumbent weight of the accumulations. 
Here the beds are two feet and upwards in thick- 
ness, with only a few inches of the upper layer of 
oysters living. Oysters will not survive for any 
long time when covered with sand, mud, or any 
other matter ; and sometimes, by a change of cur- 
rent, or from disturbance of the bottom by violent 
storms, extensive oyster beds are covered by sand 
and destroyed. The young oysters when they 
accumulate so rapidly as in the case in Tangiers, 
add a stratum yearly to the natural beds, and a 
corresponding stratum underneath must perish. 
The increase is, therefore, only in the extension of 
the superficial area occupied by the beds. Here 
dredging has been found most beneficial, as the 
dredge relieves the beds of their weight, and 
spreads the oysters over the bottom. A half cen- 
tury since, the bottom of the Chesapeake was in- 
terspersed with numerous isolated beds of small 
extent and great thickness, but dredging has so 
scattered them that they now form almost a con- 

THE O YS TE R . 27 

tinuous bed, covering the whole. Dredging also 
clears the upper portions of the beds of the accu- 
mulations of mud and sand. The ova adhere best 
to clean objects, and the dirt destroys the delicate 


Notwithstanding the similarity of the different 
varieties of the oyster, each preserves its identity, 
and they remain as it were in separate families. 
The number of varieties found in the Chesapeake 
has not been precisely ascertained, but it is sup- 
posed to be about thirty. Some of them have been 
imported from the Atlantic coast and others from 
the southern rivers as plants, but most of them are 
indigenous. Those in the deep waters of the bay 
differ from such as are on the shoals, and the same 
variety is not infrequently found in two rivers, how- 
ever near their entrance into the bay. Nature has 
provided thick, hard shells, capable of affording 
perfect security from their numerous enemies, for 
those in the deep water; while, in the small and 
comparatively shallow rivers, where their foes do 
not exist in such numbers, the shells are thin and 
easily broken. 

Oysters are found in most of the saline waters 
of the globe, where tides flow and ebb, except in 
the extremes of temperature, but they attain a con- 
dition of perfection, as regards size and quality, 


only in the waters of temperate and semi-tropical 

Natural beds of oysters exist in moderately deep 
water, generally from seven to thirty feet, according 
to the climate, the character of the bottom, and 
other conditions favorable or otherwise for breed- 
ing, and the growth and preservation of the young. 
They are located near the coast, at the mouths of 
rivers, or in the semi-fresh water of the bays. 
Natural beds exist in isolated patches or clusters of 
indefinite extent and varied thickness. Those on 
the coast are found in indentations or sheltered 
localities, as the exposed portions of the ocean 
are subject to such agitation from violent winds, 
that the sand or mud of the bottom is disturbed to 
a such degree as sometimes to cover the oysters. 
This is destructive to the young, and even old and 
perfectly grown oysters will eventually perish when 
covered by sand or mud. The more tranquil the 
water, other things being equal, the more prolific 
and flourishing the beds. 

Oysters, as regards both growth and quality, are 
influenced by the condition of the water in which 
they exist. Those on the Atlantic coast, in the 
unmitigated salt of the ocean waters, are small and 
too salt for use, while in the neighboring bays and 
at the mouths of the rivers, where the out-going 
fresh water mingles with that of the sea, the oyster 
attains its greatest size and best flavor. 


The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries afford 
the most favorable conditions for the natural 
growth of the oyster, as well as all needful facilities 
for its artificial propagation and culture. Located 
in the proper temperature, its bottoms of sand and 
rock, its abundant produce of sea-moss as a home 
and breeding place, its waters tempered in degrees 
of saltness to suit all varieties, and its numerous 
fresh-water streams, bringing down in their floods 
a continuous supply of food and other require- 
ments, render the bay superior, in its oyster 
grounds, to any body of water on this continent or 
perhaps in the world. 

From its waters is obtained a majority of the 
oysters cultivated and consumed on the American 
continent. It is a magnificent basin, 200 miles long 
by an average breadth of 25 miles, in which Prov- 
idence seems to have accumulated every necessary 
condition for the propagation and perfection of the 
oyster. Its direction is north and south ; innum- 
erable rivers empty into it. The shores of the bay 
are indented by a multitude of gulfs, small bays 
and creeks, and afford innumerable and admirable 
places of shelter for the habitation and propagation 
of all kinds of fish and mollusks and their perfect 
development, so that the oyster of the Chesapeake 
in consequence of these favorable conditions in 
which it lives, is in its natural cultivation so large 
that for the most part it does not need culture, and 


can be taken to market directly from the natural 
beds or rocks as they are called. At the North 
where, on account of the thickness of the ice in 
the winter, the oysters are not obtainable, they are 
carried from the Chesapeake in vessels, in the shell, 
and they will remain alive in the hold of the vessel 
for an indefinite time (several weeks,) however cold 
the temperature may be. There are other locali- 
ties that produce superior oysters, though only in 
part native to the places, viz. : the bays of New 
York, New Haven and Providence, Bird's Island 
and Hog Island, the St. Charles and Mystic Rivers, 
Blue Point, on Long Island Sound ; Prince Bay, 
in the East River; Harlem and Shrewsberry 
Rivers, and Saddle Rocks, the Jersey coast, chiefly 
from Milk Pond and Absecom Beach, but the Ches- 
apeake is the great natural reservoir and home for 
excellence of the oyster. The bottom and shores 
of this bay and its tributaries are pre-eminently the 
favorite haunts and habitat of the delicious bivalve. 
Here is the bottom in which they delight to dwell. 
In pure sand they do not fatten, and grow very 
little. On muddy bottom they contract an un- 
pleasant taste, and many are killed by being smoth- 
ered, but in mixed soils of sand and mud they 
develop to an astonishing degree and attain the 
most delicious flavor, especially when the water is 
slightly salt and shallow. The most favorable 
places are those locations in the small bays, creeks 

THE O YS TE R. 31 

and mouths of rivers in which the tide ebbs and 
flows in moderate current, and where they are shel- 
tered from tempestous winds and disturbing seas. 
The maximum depth at which they are usually 
planted is from 4 to 12 feet at low tide. The oys- 
ters planted in tidal rivers or in ponds of brackish 
water, fatten and grow very rapidly, but are insipid 
in taste compared to those found in purely salt 
water. In the bedding or planting of oysters, the 
position of the oyster upon the ground is of no 
importance, provided the deeper valve is upper- 
most. When it happens to fall and rest upon this 
valve in the act of planting, its growth is affected 
in such a manner that the edges of the shell turn 
upward as if the animal thus endeavored to obviate 
the danger to itself arising from this abnormal 


From Kent Island, within twenty-five miles of 
Baltimore, to Cape Henry, a distance of one hun- 
dred and forty miles, the bottom of the bay is, with 
slight exceptions, a continuous oyster bed. All 
the fresh water streams that empty into the bay 
within the, above-named limits are stocked, either 
naturally or artificially, with oysters, as far up to- 
ward their sources as the influence of the salt water 


The area of the oyster beds of the Chesapeake 
and its tributaries may be safely estimated at three 
thousand square miles. There is, however, great 
inequality in the quantity of bivalves scattered over 
the bottoms. In some places they are so few as to 
render fishing for them unremunerative, though 
such are exceptions rather than the general rule ; 
while, in other portions of the bay, they increase 
so rapidly that many perish from the weight by 
suffocation or want of food. 

Some idea of the magnitude of the oyster busi- 
ness of the Chesapeake may be obtained from the 
following : 

The bay is divided into four departments, and 
each has its proper police regulations. The Balti- 
more department, which includes less than one-half 
the oyster fisheries, reports an annual average of 
eleven million bushels, taken in the legitimate way 
of dredging and tonging. The reports of both 
departments aggregate from twenty million to 
twenty-five million bushels, which are only an 
approximation to the quantity actually taken. This 
report does not include the oysters taken from pri- 
vate beds or plantations, owned by the residents on 
the island and the shores of the bay and rivers, 
who do not regularly engage in the trade, but cul- 
tivate them for their own uses ; nor the numbers 
taken by the " pungeys," canoes, and other small 
craft that continually depredate upon the grounds 
without the required license. 



The implements used in oyster fishing are few 
and simple in construction. They are the dredge, 
the tongs, and the fork. The dredge is used on 
the natural beds, in deep water. It is an iron net 
set in pear-shaped iron frames and furnished with 
teeth so arranged as to tear the oysters from the 
beds and gather them into the net as it is drawn 
over the bottom by the vessel, to which it is at- 
tached by means of along rope. It weighs about 
one hundred and fifty pounds, and is drawn on 


board the vessel by a windlass arranged for the 
purpose. It is designed to hold about three bush- 
els, though it is rarely filled with marketable oys- 

34 THE O YS T E R. 

ters at one "haul." When one-fourth of the con- 
tents is good oysters, the " haul " is considered a 
good one. The remaining empty shells are cast 
back into the water. 

The tongs are composed of two iron rakes at- 
tached to long wooden poles with an axle set near 
the rakes. The fisher leans over the side of his 
boat, and handles this tool with ease in water from 
two to eight feet deep. It is used chiefly on planted 
beds. The fork is composed of ten or twelve tines, 
or prongs, set near one another, and fixed to a long, 


stout handle. It is used for fishing in shallow 
water, on beds where oysters are entangled in sea- 
moss, and the fisher generally wades in the water 
in order to manage it easily. 

THE O YS T E R . 35 

The best planting grounds, all things consid- 
ered, are found in Tangiers Sound, Pocomoke 
River, Cherrystone and Occohannoc Creeks, York 
River, Rappahannock River and Milford Haven, 
a portion of the bay opposite the county of Dor- 
chester, and of Somerset, in Maryland, and marked 
off from the bay proper by a chain of islands from 
Dorchester Hook to Crisfield,the present terminus 
of the Delaware Railroad. Here the water is com- 
paratively shallow, and the Sound is so completely 
shielded by islands on one side, and the main land 
on the other, as to be at all times tranquil. The 
business of planting, therefore, may be carried on 
without interruption, and the plants are not liable 
to be covered by sand. 

Good planting grounds are valuable, and are 
seldom sold ; but sometimes they are leased at 
rates ranging from $50 to $400 annually per acre. 
Sales of lots covered by three to seven feet of 
water have been made at upwards of $100 per 
acre ; and the most desirable grounds are valued at 
rates above these figures, and pay an interest of 
more than 20 per cent, on that valuation. 

There are other excellent planting grounds 
superior even, in some respects, but they are open 
to the objection of loss from shifting sands, so des- 
tructive to the plants. On the Tangiers bottoms 
exists a rank vegetable growth called sea-moss, in 
which oysters become securely imbedded, and 


which protects the spawn and the young oysters 
until their shells become sufficiently hard to afford 
protection from the numerous aquatic foes that prey 
upon them. 

The boundaries of the planting lots are deter- 
mined from stakes or small evergreen trees, firmly 
secured in the mud at the corners. These fragile 
corner-marks are strictly respected by the neigh- 
bors, and a case of trespass rarely occurs. 

The plants are allowed to remain from 3 to 5 
years. The tonging season commences in Septem- 
ber and continues through the following April, it 
being a rule with the fishermen to close operations 
before May; as, according to their belief, oysters 
are unfit for use in any month that is not spelled 
with the letter R. The breeding season occupies 
the four months from May to August inclusive, and 
the oysters are then necessarily not in good condi- 
tion for use. Consequently those engaged in the 
business during the other part of the year employ 
their boats in freighting fruits and vegetables, or 
turn their attention to trucking, particularly to the 
cultivation of sweet potatoes and melons, for which 
the islands and high mainlands are peculiarly 


America, whose Atlantic coast is rich in shell 
fish, is the most favored country in the world in 

THE O YS T E R . 37 

piscatorial and molluscous treasures, the coast line 
presents a conformation entirely unique. From 
Cape Fear, to the extremity of Long Island sandy 
beaches are almost universally interposed between 
the ocean and the mainland, which run parallel 
with the shore at a distance of from one to several 
miles. These sandy formations make bays, sounds, 
lagunes, &c, the most favorable localities for the 
multiplication of fish and mollusks. 

In these bays and sounds the waters are less 
salt, and less agitated by the winds, than the open 
sea, and thus present all the favorable conditions 
for the propagation of fish and mollusks — espe- 
cially oysters. The oysters form immense banks 
along the shores, and furnish every year a mass of 
alimentary matter of which it is impossible to form 
any idea, so largely do they contribute to the sus- 
tenance of the population over thousands of square 
miles of the continent, that a failure of their prop- 
agation would be a national calamity. It is esti- 
mated that in the city of New York, and the same 
will hold good in hundreds of cities and towns, es- 
pecially along the seaboard, that more money is 
expended for oysters than all the varieties of meat 
combined. It is moreover estimated that the com- 
merce or trade in oysters in the city of New York 
will annually amount to from eight to ten millions 
of dollars, and that the whole trade in the United 
States in oysters amounts to from seventy-five to 


one hundred millions of dollars annually. They 
have become so necessary an article of food with 
every class of the population that scarcely a town 
in the whole country, from the Atlantic to the Pa- 
cific, can be found without its regular supply. 
They are transported in the shell, and out of the 
shell, preserved in ice, in pickle or canned, to Eu- 
rope, chiefly put up in barrels. 

The great centres of this vast export trade in 
oysters are Baltimore, Boston and New Haven, and 
for six months in the year the oyster industry in 
these cities gives employment to an army of oper- 
ators, black and white, male and female. 

Although oysters will propagate, grow and be 
edible on almost all parts of the Atlantic coast and 
its innumerable bays and rivers, some localities 
suit them better than others. Long experience has 
shown that those oysters taken from the Chesa- 
peake bay may be transplanted to the waters of all 
the Northern States without deterioriating in qual- 
ity, and it is remarkable how much they will im- 
prove under certain hydrographic conditions. The 
oysters of most of the Northern planting grounds 
originally came from the shores of the Chesapeake 
bay and adjacent sounds. 

The oysters of North America are divided into 
three species, the ostrea Virginiana, or the oyster 
of Virginia, the Northern Oyster, or ostrea Bore- 
alis, and the ostrea Canadensis or Canada oyster. 

THE O YS TER . 39 

While there are local differences in shape, size and 
flavor of the oysters of the American continent, 
there are also marked differences between those of 
America and Europe. The American oyster is 
more or less elongated. The lower valve is more 
concave, and the mollusk is more corpulent in 
body. It is more tender, larger, richer in nutritive 
elements and generally less saltish of taste, and of 
remarkable weakness of muscle. On the other 
hand the European oyster is almost round in 
shape . 

The Virginia oyster has a narrow shell, increas- 
ing gradually in size from the top, and moderately 
curved in the plane of the intersection of its valves. 
They are generally distorted in figure. The upper 
valve is almost entirely flat, and the smoother of 
the two. Both valves present numerous laminae. 
The Northern oyster has a shell rounded, curved, 
ordinarily crooked, and less elongated than the 
Virginia. The upper valve is flat, and the beak 
short and bent over, and the shell is very irregu- 
lar. Its edges are more or less jagged and scol- 
lopod, are calcareous in the lower valve, while in 
the upper they are flexible, and almost membran- 
ous. The lower valve is deeper than that of the 
Virginia species. They attain an immense size. 
Some species, the Saddle Rocks, of New York, 
are a foot In length by six inches in width, and 
equally large oysters are found in Buzzard's bay, 

4 o THE O YS TER. 

The Canadian oyster is less elongated than the 
Virginia. The shell is broad, very white, and 1am- 
iniferous, the upper valve is slightly convex. Con- 
jointly with the Chesapeake bay and its tributaries, 
the Albemarle and Pimlico Sounds produce excel- 
leut oysters, and from their prolificacy, if undis- 
turbed, would change the hydrography of the 

Pliny tells us that the first inventor of the oys- 
ter ponds was a certain Sergius Orata. In his day, 
600 years B,C, the existence of oysters on the Eng- 
lish coasts were not known; and Brundusium, 
which had almost the exclusive privilege of sup- 
plying the whole of Italy, was so far from Rome, 
that the oysters reached the capital in a very poor 
condition, often spoiled. It is well-known that oys- 
ters and fish are of a better quality in some local- 
ities than in others ; Orata found in Lake Lucrinus, 
a spot specially favorable to oyster planting. 

This lake, which has a clear bottom and pure 
water, was connected both with the salt water of 
the ocean, and with fresh river water, and in the 
hands of Orata it soon became a gigantic oyster 
pond, which could at all times supply Rome with 
oysters of such an excellent flavor as soon to gain 
the very highest reputation among all the dainty 
eaters in Italy. These oysters were sent all over 
Italy in wooden boxes filled with water, to places 
at great distances from the sea. Athenaeus states 

THE O YS T E R . 41 

that fresh oysters, carefully packed in jars, were 
sent to the interior of Asia. The fullest informa- 
tion on the subject of oyster planting we get from 
the ancient monuments of the time of Nero. These 
remains consist of two sepuchral urns of glass dis- 
covered near Rome. The outside of these urns is 
covered with a sort of engraving, which, notwith- 
standing its rudeness, shows very distinctly an an- 
cient oyster pond. In the centre of the engraving 
is the word " Ostriaria," i. e. oyster-pond. The 
most remarkable thing about these engravings is 
that a great number of poles are seen driven into 
the ground placed in circles. This could only have 
been done for the same purpose as at the present 
day, viz. : to afford to the young oysters an object 
to which they could cling and grow. It is thus 
evident that the ancients not only kept a stock of 
oysters in their ponds, but also let them breed 
there and become a fruitful source of revenue. 

Licinius Murena was the first one who had 
ponds for fish. Soon most of the rich and noble 
Roman families possessed their own fish-ponds. 
Pliny states Lucullus had a channel dug through a 
mountain near Naples, at a fabulous expense, that 
he might introduce *;vater from the sea into his fish 


The floculent organic matter and marine ani- 
maculse subserve the oyster as food. Upon his 

42 THE O YS T ER . 

shell is almost always attached olive-colored and 
ruby algae or sea-weeds, the sporules of which are 
the bread or manna of the oyster. In like manner 
does the beautiful " Red Sponge" and the cells of 
the " Bryozoa" or animate moss contribute to the 
oyster's larder. There are also to be found upon 
and about the oyster a sea-weed like growth known 
as sertularia — which marine animaculae inhabit, 
and little sea anemones that look like drops of jel- 
ly, but the most important and interesting person- 
age among the attendants upon the oyster is the 
little " pea crab" with his scarlet jacket and trim- 
mings of gold, from only found living in the oys- 
ter, it is called the " oyster crab," pinotheres ostre- 
tcm. It is only the female that has been found in 
the oyster, and she is the oyster's bosom friend. 
These little delicate crabs are highly valued by 
epicureans, and it is a historical fact that George 
Washington was particularly fond of these crabs, 
and upon the occasion of his dining at the house 
of a lady admirer, extraordinary effort was made to 
procure a half pint of these for his repast, to his 
great surprise and delight. 

There is a very prevalent opinion in the United 
States — indeed, in Europe — that oysters may be 
fattened by pouring Indian meal and water on 
them, and this mode of fattening and feeding them 
is quite prevalent. It is exceedingly improbable 
that the meal is of any benefit for the reason that 

THE O YS T E R. 43 

the oyster is a carnivorous animal, and his stom- 
ach is too delicate and not suitably organized to 
digest corn meal or any other vegetable, farina- 
ceous or graminous food. 


Oysters have their enemies. There are certain 
piscatorial monsters that prey upon and destroy 
many oyster-beds. The powerful and voracious 
drum fish is chief among them ; he is a large 
coarse fish, weighing often fifty pounds, his dental 
armature or teeth are large and powerful crushing 
instruments, and, in the language of an old pisca- 
torial Nimrod, " he is the most damnably auda- 
cious foe of all the oyster's enemies.' ' They come 
and go unheralded, cruise in large " schools" or 
numbers, make periodical, predatory or piratical 
excursions to the various oyster-beds, craunching 
and devouring indiscriminately. 

Another virulent and pugnacious enemy of the 
oyster is the crab. This foe leisurely saunters 
along sideways, seemingly for recreation or a 
pleasant stroll, when, coming upon the unsuspect- 
ing and peaceful oyster, with his upper and lower 
shells open, taking his morning or evening meal, 
watches his opportunity and assails him by in- 
dignantly and malignantly throwing sand in 
the oyster's face. Thus, being confused and in 

44 THE O YS TER . 

the act of freeing himself of this sand, and writhing 
under this barbaric mode of insult and assault, the 
crab seizes him and drags him lacerated from his 

The star fish is another enemy of the oyster. 
Their mode of attack is as follows : A school of 
them, in their wanderings, will settle upon an oys- 
ter-bed, each star fish fastening himself upon an 
oyster and enfolding it with his tentaculae or "feel- 
ers." Upon the oyster separating his shells for 
the purpose of feeding, the star fish introduces 
his long finger-like appendages and seizes the 
helpless oyster. This operation is continued until 
the star fish has made a meal of the delicious bi- 
valves on the " half-shell." 

The insinuation of a fine particle of sand or 
grit between the valves of the oyster when they 
are separated in the act of feeding is exceedingly 
irritating to the animal. When it is not possible 
for him to rid himself of it, and it persistently 
stays, it is a source of great irritation, and the oys- 
ter resorts to the sensible expedient of coating it 
upon all sides with a layer of pearly matter ; this 
coating becomes globular and smooth by the agi- 
tation of the waters, and the vermicular motion of 
the oyster's tentacles, and thus its irritant action is 
almost totally counteracted, and such little globu- 
lar bodies found in oysters are called " oyster 

THE O YS TE R. 45 

There is a little crab in all its appointments 
that for a long time was considered a parasite or 
verminous inhabitant of the oyster, but this little 
crab so highly prized as a dainty article by epi- 
cures, is a species of crabs, and of distinct species 
from the callinectes hastatus or the cancer pagurus. 
They are found in nearly all the oysters of the 
Chesapeake bay. They slip in and out of the 
valves of the oyster when he opens his valves to 
feed, and is imprisoned when the oyster is done 
•feeding and closes his valves. From 150 speci- 
mens of these little crabs taken from oysters from 
various localities in the Chesapeake bay, every 
one of them, without exception, proved upon exam- 
ination to be females, and full of eggs. The males 
of this species of crab are exceedingly rare ; so 
seldom are they found that it is a matter of aston- 
ishment how the propagation of the species is ef- 
fected and maintained. 


There is a great difference in the quality of 
oysters of the same size and age. Locality has 
its influence to such a degree that most natural 
beds and all planting grounds produce oysters of 
different flavors. An experienced oyster fisher 
can, at sight, generally tell the locality from which 
the oyster was taken ; and the epicure accustomed 

46 THE O YS T E R . 

to the different flavors, can, by taste, designate 
the bed on which the oyster was grown and fatted. 
The oysters of Tangiers are excelled in deli- 
cious flavor by those at the mouth of the Cherry- 
stone River on the coast, Occohannock Creek, 
and by those in Lynnhaven bay on the west side, 
and those at the mouths of the James and Nanse- 
mond Rivers. The Cherrystones deservedly hold 
the first rank, but the natural beds are of small ex- 
tent and their production limited. There are, 
however, fine feeding grounds in the vicinity of 
Cherrystone, and all oysters planted there become 
of superior quality or flavor. The true Cherry- 
stone, in fine condition, retains its shape and plump- 
ness when cooked, which is that of a cherry seed, 
and cuts as finely as a tender sirloin, and such 
qualities or brands of oysters are advancing in 
price every year. 


This name is given to all very large oysters, 
generally to those taken in the East River. The 
original Saddle Rock oyster was not only very 
large, but possessed peculiar delicious flavor w r hich 
gave it its reputation. It received its name be- 
cause it was discovered near a rock known as 
Saddle Rock, on the farm of David Alan, situated 
on the shores of Little Neck Bay, in Long Island 
Sound. It is a rock about twenty feet high, and 

THE O YS T E R . 47 

about the same in diameter. The shape of the top 
of this rock resembles the form of a saddle, and 
from that circumstance is called Saddle Rock. At 
low water the land side of this rock is left bare by 
the receding tide ; in 1827, an extraordinary low tide 
occurred, leaving the base of the rock and the cir- 
cumjacent bed of the sea bare of water and ex- 
posed. This extreme low tide and recession of 
water revealed a bed of oysters adjacent to and 
surrounding the rock. The news of the discovery 
of these magnificent oysters spread. They soon 
found their way to the city and commanded fancy 
prices, selling for $10.00 per 100. In a short time 
the Saddle Rock oysters were exhausted, and for 
forty years there has not been a Saddle Rock oys- 
ter in the market. 


Americans are the only people who eat soft- 
shell crabs or " soft crabs," and the only people 
who eat oysters in the spawning season. It is a 
fact indisputable that the crab in the act of slough- 
ing, or the oyster during the period of spawning 
are unwholesome and disgustingly unpalatable. 

The aphorism of Brillat Savarin, " the discov- 
ery of a new dish does more for the happiness of 
the human race than the discovery of a new pla- 
net," is a truism that will be universally acknow- 


ledged, and Brille declares there is no alimentary 
substance, not excepting bread, which does not 
produce indigestion under given circumstances, 
but oysters never, they may be eaten daily, at all 
hours, without ill effect. As before remarked, all 
nations of the earth, civilized and savage, feed upon 
oysters ; all terrestrial and maritime dwellers enjoy 
them, and as far as one can judge, have eaten them 
from the morning that Adam and Eve awoke in 
Eden. Galenus says that as a general thing the 
oysters eaten raw produce witty thoughts, and 
Pliny attributes to them a purging property, and 
that the burnt shells are good for the dysentery. 

Oysters when not eaten raw are prepared in a 
variety of ways. They are relished almost equally 
in every and in all ways that they may be cooked. 
They are eaten in the form of soup or stewed, 
broiled, roasted, fried, escalloped, made in pies 
and into pates. They are pickled and spiced, with 
vinegar and spices. Thus are they a most suita- 
ble article of diet for the sick and convalescent. 

Figuier declares oysters the glory of the epi- 
cure. History relates that the emperor Vitellius 
could eat one thousand raw oysters at a meal. 
Seneca, the renowned moralist, confined himself to 
one hundred raw on the half-shell, at a lunch, with 
a pint of Roman beer, and Napoleon Bonaparte 
invariably eat raw oysters, on the eve of his great 
battles, if it was possible to get them. No morsel 

THE O YS TE R. 49 

ever glided down the aesophagus of a human be- 
ing, equal in deliciousness to the fat, plump, saltish 
raw Lynnhaven or Cherrystone oyster, without 
any kind of condiment ; or, if one should fancy, 
with a few drops' of lemon juice, and a delicate 
morsel of horse-radish, as a condiment, dropped 
upon his plump carcass, as he lays upon the half- 
shell, and the only beverage or drink to be taken 
along with him, should be finely brewed ale. Thus 
eaten, the whole of his transcendental lusciousness 
will be obtained and enjoyed. Next in delicious- 
ness is the broiled, then comes the escalloped, then 
comes all ways. They are delicious in every way, 
except cooked in the way that Charles Lamb must 
have eaten them, viz. : On a certain occasion the 
omnibus on which he rode was stopped by a man 
who asked, "All full in there?" to which Lamb 
replied, " I don't know how it is with the rest, but 
that last 'piece of oyster pie did the business for 

In almost every town and cily upon the conti- 
nent there are to be found countless numbers of 
" oyster houses and restaurants," The larger and 
finer flavored are used or for sale by the dozen at 
the counter known as the "Raw Box." In ninety- 
nine out of every hundred restaurants a sable negro 
stands and opens wtth the velocity of an act of 
legerdemain the plump delicious bivalve. No other 
living being can vie with the negro in opening oys- 

5 o THE O YS T E R. 

ters at the " raw box." Steamed oysters are a 
favorite dish with the majority of persons, as ori- 
ginally introduced by Harvey, of Washington; 
roasted oysters have a peculiar flavor, and a most 
appetizing odor, and there are but few who do not 
enjoy them. Especially are they delicious when 
dropped in a sauce made of melted butter, pep- 
per and sauce, contained in the hot deep valve of 
the oyster. 

Pickled oysters are prepared with vinegar and 
spices after being slightly cooked. Canned oys- 
ters, which require to be slightly cooked previous 
to eating, are oysters taken from the shell, slightly 
cooked, then put into cylindrical tin boxes with a 
circular hole in the top. When the cans are filled 
they are closed by soldering a round piece of tin 
on the opening. They are thus exported all over 
the country, and to Europe, and also in the way 
of barrels of opened raw oysters, in which a lump 
of ice is inserted. 

The shells of the oyster give rise to various in- 
dustries of importance. They are converted into 
lime by being burnt in large heaps or piles with 
wood called " lime kilns," and this lime is a most 
important fertilizer; is superior to other lime be- 
cause it contains no magnesia. They are useful for 
macadamizing roads and forming paths in pleasure 
grounds. Generally, the oyster dealers and pack- 
ers give the shells away to get rid of their accumu- 
lation in and about their establishments. 


Oyster shells left inland, and upon the margins 
of creeks and rivers by the aboriginal oyster- eaters 
make in many places mounds of vast extent, thirty 
or forty feet deep, or higher. At Fernandina, 
Florida, and at other points, they were used as 
forts during the late war ; and as to their antiquity, 
there is no doubt but that the oyster was eaten 
thousands of years ago by the Indians or a more 
ancient race. Indeed, bones have been found in 
these oyster-shell mounds, osteologically indicat- 
ing a race different from the Indians, probably 
antedating or contemporaneous with the ancient 
mound builders of the continent, and thus has this 
continent been, through all time, the land and par- 
adise of the oyster. 




( Callinectes Hastatus.) 

Full Grown Crab. 

The average observer espying a struggling- 
huntsman in the pursuit of those embryonic crea- 
tures in their metamorphic stage, vulgarly known 
as tadpoles, is likely to soliloquise in this wise, 
" That old chap is crazy," and this is what was said 
and believed of Sir Joseph Banks, one of England's. 


earliest and greatest naturalists, and the bailiff who 
found him groping in a ditch under a drizzling rain 
with a handkerchief full of frogs and curious in- 
sects felt it his duty to arrest him upon a charge of 
vagrancy, and to take him before the nearest squire 
or magistrate for commitment. The judicial func- 
tionary, upon hearing the charge of the bailiff, had 
compassion upon Sir Joseph, and discharged him 
with the following sympathetic reprimand : " Alas, 
poor gentleman, I am sorry for ye, and pity much 
your upper story. " 

It is this class of men, numerically small, who 
industriously penetrate and explore every field of 
nature, and investigate the wonders of creation, 
that humanity is indebted for the profoundest 
acquaintance and loftiest conception of the multi- 
form works and infinite designs of the Creator. 

This class of aquatic animals, crabs, have been 
from the earliest times a subject of curious study 
and investigation, for the crab species was amongst 
the very first that sprung into existence in the far 
back period when the Almighty's countenance first 
brooded upon the face of the deep, and swarmed 
the oceans with its progeny, thousand of ages be- 
fore man was created. 

Countless myriads upon myriads of these 
creatures have lived and died before human tongue 
could give them a name. But there is not now a 
language spoken upon the earth, nor was there 


ever a language ever uttered by man that does not 
afford a term to designate them. 

Their different genera are far more numerous 
than the families of the human race, and the indi- 
viduals of the different species simply defy the 
power of arithmetic to number. 

As before stated, they have existed through a 
period of time far more extended than that meas- 
ured by the generations of man, and are at this mo- 
ment as living creatures and fossil remains, only 
less numerous than the sands of the seas which 
they inhabit, and their shells, together with other 
Crustacea and mollusks, now not only' bestrew the 
depths of ocean from pole to pole, but are im- 
bedded everywhere in the towering mountains and 
grassy valleys of the solid earth, and furnish the 
material called marble from which we erect the 
monumental shaft above the remains of our friends 
and kindred, vainly aspiring and striving by heap- 
ing death upon death to make at least their mem- 
ories immortal. 

The students of animated nature, having under 
consideration an universal subject, must of neces- 
sity resort to an universal nomenclature, and this is 
found more in the ancient Greek and Latin lan- 
guages, with which all scientists are more or less 

Therefore, in speaking of the crab, of our com- 
mon edible crab, to come to an understanding of 


its relationship with other species of its genera, we 
will be obliged, to some extent, to resort to the 
terms which have become the common language of 

The crab, then, is an order of a class of articii- 
lated animals. This term articulated refers to the 
division of their limbs into articles or sections by 
exterior joints, and under this general class is 
marshalled many species of animals and insects 
inhabiting both land and sea. 

The construction of the limbs of a crab, of a 
bee or of a spider, will suggest to you the meaning 
of articulated or separated exterior joints. 

The division Crustacea has been also divided 
into two general classes. The first of these is what 
is termed by Cuvier the malacostraca. Of this 
malacostraca there are several orders, and the first 
four of these embrace the genus cancer or crab 

Under this head our crab is known as a decapod 
or ten-footed malacostraca. Our common edible 
coast crab is but a single family of the many 
thousands which are embraced by the generic term. 
The striking forms and splendid and gorgeous 
colorings with which nature has painted and 
adorned the different varieties of the crab family, 
which swarm the tropical seas, is calculated to fill 
the mind with wonder. 

We are all of us more or less familiar with the 
curiously wrought and beautifully colored shells, 


which are brought to us from the tropical seas. 
We have also seen and know something of the 
magnificent plumage of the birds which inhabit the 
tropical forests, and of the rare and exquisite 
beauty of the flowers which adorn the Southern 

Yet, amongst everything that is commonly 
known of natural development in these favored re- 
gions, there are no colorings more rare and strik- 
ing and no forms more curious and varied than 
those with which the God of nature has clothed 
the different species of the common crab. 

Their shells are not preserved and transported 
as rarities like those of the several varieties of 
conchs, because they are of a more fragile nature 
and crumble and fade rapidly under the action of 
the atmosphere. 

This animal is too numerous and its families far 
too diversified, upon land and sea, to admit of any 
restriction whatever upon the general law of variety 
in which nature seems so much to delight, and 
step by step the crab family cover every stage of 
demarcation between the extremes of beauty and 
the most bestial ugliness. Its size will range when 
complete from the dimensions of a small field bean . 
to the enormous bulk and weight of 300 pounds. 

There are crabs not only of every conceivable 
variety of colours, but of shapes, habits, instincts 
and localities. 



There are, in refereyice to shapes ■, quadrilateral 
crabs, globular crabs, oblong crabs, elliptical crabs, 
spheroidal crabs, diamond crabs, triangular crabs, 
and crabs of every conceivable variety of profile. 

In the matter of color they far exceed the variety 
of the witches in Macbeth, for there are not only 
" black crabs and white, blue and gray crabs " but 
there are crabs of every variety of shade and color, 
and combination of shades and colorings, and some 
of them indeed, from their being half of one color 
and half of another, perfectly divided in the middle 
of the shell, look as if they might have lately es- 
caped from some submarine penitentiary. There 
are swimming crabs, running crabs, crawling crabs, 
climbing crabs and burrowing crabs. There are 
no flying crabs yet discovered, that I know of, but 
one variety has attained without wings, to the 
heights of towering mountains, and the topmost 
branches of the trees which crown them. 

Their abodes are found almost everywhere 
from the lesser depths of the sea upward and out- 
ward to the declivitous slopes of the highest moun- 
tains. Some of them are entirely aquatic in their 
habits, some of them appear to be amphibious, and 
again may be said to be neither, living entirely 
upon the sands between high and low water, whilst 
others take up their abode almost entirely upon the 
land, returning at intervals to the margin of the sea 
where their young are hatched in the more favor- 
able humidity of the immediate coast. 

5 8 THE CRAB. 

Among those which are dwellers in the deep, the 
larger varieties, including the cancer pagurus, in- 
habit the greater as well as the lesser depths, whilst 
the smaller kinds, all the brachyural or short- tailed 
divisions (which term is used to distinguish them 
from the macrourus or long-tailed, lobster-like 
varieties), and every family of the callinectes has- 
tatus, our Chesapeake crab, confine themselves to 
the shallower waters upon the coast line and its 
tributary rivers, North and South. 

There are two varieties which inhabit the belt 
stretching along the coast from the beach to the 
outer bars, and are very rarely seen in other situa- 
tions. The first of these is one of the varieties 
what is called the spider crab, an animal very rough 
and forbidding in its appearance, very little vitality, 
and with no pinnapeds, or swimming feet which 
shows it to be the natural scavenger of the bottom 
of the coast line. The other is one of the most 
active and beautiful little specimens of the brachy- 
ural decapod. Its color is a creamy white, beau- 
tifully dotted over the shell and claws with specks 
of pink and crimson. Although furnished with 
well-developed swimming feet, and capable of great 
activity in the water, when thrown upon the sands 
by turbulent breakers, it will burrow its way back- 
wards with astonishing rapidity beneath the solidly 
compacted beach, where it will lie concealed until 
it can take advantage of the returning surf, and 



scud with it, as it again retires, to its native ele- 
ment. It is known among scientists as the haty- 
onichas oscellatus, and has frequently been called 
the lady crab. On the beach of Worcester County 
it is simply known among fishermen as the sand 
crab, but the true sand crab is a different animal. 

The pagurus berriadus— the hermit or soldier 
crabs, as they are indiscriminately called, which 
make their election as to whether they will forage for 
subsistence upon land or sea, and, dividing on the 
shores where they are hatched, follow the bent of 
their inclinations, which vary from time to time as 
exigencies may require. 

These are sexapods, or six-footed crabs, with a 
lobster-like elongation of body, the posterior part 
of which is unprotected by the carapace or shell 
which guards the frontal parts. Nature, which 
omitted in this particular family the complete pro- 
tection of the body, has given to its various indi- 
viduals an instinct, if you so please to call it, which 
enables them to provide it for themselves. 

They are called soldier crabs, because, when on 
the land, they are always on the march, and hermit 
crabs, for the reason that they take up their resi- 
dence and live each to itself in some sea shell from 
which either time or accident or their own belig- 
erent claws have routed the original proprietor, 
where they ensconce themselves, their tough and 
pliant posteriors being so formed by nature, as to 


be enabled to hold with great tenacity to the shell, 
which they always carry with them on land and 
sea, changing it to suit their growth. And when 
more than one of this family, in search of new 
domicils, more suitable to their development, 
happen to meet and dispute about the coveted 
dwelling, the fiercest conflicts often ensue, and the 
victor in such a strife not only assumes possession 
of the tenement, but celebrates his entry by a feast, 
all to himself, upon his fallen competitors. 

In the West India Island rural coast regions 
" Bernardus, " as they call him, is much more 
familiar, in his nightly depredations, upon the 
premises and even habitations of planters, than is 
the common rat with us ; and though much more 
clumsy and with nothing of agility in his move- 
ments, his shell, bumping after him as he scuffles 
across the floor, and always tumbling back with a 
heavy concussion in his unsuccessful efforts to climb 
a bed-post, yet he is not regarded as so much of a 
nuisance or as expert a robber, and is always 
treated with a sort of patronizing consideration, 
perhaps, because when compared with the immense 
ravages committed by others of his kindred he is 
in a great measure but a harmless intruder. 

Nearly all species of crabs may be said to be in 
nowise particular about their diet. They will at- 
tack and devour with great voracity living animals, 
even each other, and do not object to feasting upon 


the dead, even though the subject be far advanced 
in putrefaction. 

With them, if it is not flesh, it will be fish, and if 
neither " fish nor fowl " as the phrase goes, the 
most delicate fruits and vegetables, especially of 
the tropical climates furnish them with their diet, 
or rather they furnish themselves, with peach 
leaves, strange as it may appear to those not fami- 
liar with their habits, by clambering to the tops of 
the highest trees and enjoying their repast between 
earth and sky. 

There is, perhaps, no species of Crustacea more 
vicious than the crab. There is certainly none 
more voracious ; and this latter propensity may be 
the natural compensation for the long fasts which 
nature has fitted and sometimes obliges it to 

As Shylock says of the rats, " There be land 
crabs and water crabs, " but they are all of them 
perfect gourmands, and supplied with a multiplica- 
tion of jaws, and some of them we shall see lo- 
cated in most singular situations. And the Jamaica 
land crab, thus furnished, is well known. 

A species of them, however, which has ventured, 
in higher regions, into the cocoanut and yam plan- 
tations to devour the fruit in its earlier stages, some- 
times meets with disaster in consequence of a con- 
trivance buckled upon the trees at night, which in 
their backward descent they mistake for the earth.* 


and letting go their hold, tumble and smash them- 
selves upon the rocks which are placed below. 

Of this climbing crab, Mr. Darwin, of whom 
you have doubtless heard, has examined a species 
which is certainly the most remarkable specimen 
of the genus that has been lately observed. It is 
a decapod, or ten-footed crab, which is so con- 
structed by nature that it climbs a tree with greater 
facility than any other known variety; and after 
the feat is performed is enabled by its powerful 
claws to break through the hard glazed exterior 
covering of the full ripe cocoanut, to strip its tough 
and compacted fibres from the interior shell to 
pieces, then clearing away the softer matter which 
closes the eye, with which the stems connect, and 
finally, after imbibing the milky juice, to extract 
and feed upon the fruit within, by the aid of an 
additional pair of long and delicate posterior claws 
occupying the place of the pinnapeds, or swimming 
feet of the other varieties. 

The Malays and Polynesian Islanders fre- 
quently rob their nests under the roots of decayed 
trees, where they burrow in great numbers of im- 
mense quantities of this cocoa fibre, which of late 
years has become a considerable article of com- 
merce. There is a little crab, in all its appointments, 
which I was for a long time prone to regard as a 
mere parasite or vermin within the oyster, but find 
it to be a totally distinct species. They are familiar 


to all, and found in the oysters of the Chesa- 
peake. They slip in and out of the shells of the 
oyster when his mouth is open to feed, and are often 
imprisoned within the shells by their closure. 

Of over one hundred and fifty specimens, se- 
lected from oysters taken in different points of the 
Chesapeake bay, every one of them, without excep- 
tion, proved, upon examination, to be a female, 
and full of eggs. 

I have since learned, in pursuing the same in- 
quiry, that Professor Stimpson is the only man who 
was ever fortunate enough to take one of the males 
of this species alive, and I am informed by Pro- 
fessor Smith, of Yale, that that was undoubtedly 
destroyed with his collection in the great fire at 

It is more particularly upon the few species 
which are found to be edible, and form, especially 
in England and America, so important an article of 
food and commerce, that we shall now dwell. 

These all belong to the brachyura, or short- 
tailed Crustacea, as contradistinguished from the 
lobster species. They are all of them decapods or 
ten-footed, and like the whole cancer family are 
supplied with a double set of organs. 

As a general class it is difficult to speak with 
any degree of certainty in regard to the time or the 
exterior signs of their fitness for the purposes of 
generation, but is generally supposed to be when 


what is called the apron, which covers and contains 
the abdomen, looses its softness and bluish tint and 
becomes white and hard. Whether the number of 
moultings has little or great reference to the arrival 
of this period, except so far as they facilitate the 
physical development of the animal, is equally un- 
certain. But when we come to consider our own 
variety, the blue crab of the Chesapeake, I shall 
have something to say, which I have determined 
for myself. 

Unlike other species of the first general class I 
have mentioned, the malacostraca, these decapods 
are, according to Cuvier, supplied by a visible ear, 
a triangular bump near the base of the antennae or 
feelers, whilst the remainder of the class not deca- 
pods, have both the sense of smell and hearing 
resident in the body of the antennae. 

Being of a fierce and pugnacious disposition 
and surrounded by innumerable enemies, nature 
has not only clothed them with a shell which affords 
some degree of protection, but has provided them 
with the faculty of suddenly shedding their claws 
to escape from danger, and also that of their repro- 
duction, when lost either voluntarily or otherwise, 
in about ninety days. 

It is said of the crab by Godman, who certainly 
knows a great deal about it, that it has no brain, 
and its instincts are guided by ganglions of highly 
sensitive and delicate nerves. Be this as it may, — 


call it brain or nerve, and I confess I can see no 
very marked difference between the two, since the 
human brain is, so to speak, but a ganglion of 
nerves and nervous matter ; they have attained 
to an excellent understanding of a surgical opera- 
tion, for knowing when they have lost a limb that 
the new member is obliged to start from its joint, 
they proceed deliberately to bite it off clear, and 
clean back to the next articulation or joint, so that 
the new limb might have a chance to form in its 
little sack, and proceed with its development. 

Being also of a highly carnivorous and vora- 
cious nature, they are supplied with a double 
mouth, and two formidable pairs of jaws, well set 
with teeth on the anterior edge of the shell, and 
besides these another aid to digestion is provided 
in the lower part of the stomach at the mouth of 
what doctors would call the great colon, in the 
shape of a third set of regular molars. 

The outer set, ten in number, five upon each side, 
are rendered flexible by a series of jointed sections, 
and in a state of rest are closed over the interior 
mouth. These are sometimes called mandibles, 
or maxillary mandibles, and their office seems to 
be to handle and prepare the food, as so many ex- 
terior tongues or a sort of flexible teeth, for its re- 
ception at the interior mouth. This mouth is 
situate just back of these mandibles, and consists 
of an upper and lower lip and two teeth, regular 


bona fide teeth, and in a full-grown channeler just 
as large and sharp and ivory-like as any in our 
own heads. They are planted side by side, and 
not one above the other, and considering the vora- 
city of the creature, may well represent a pair of 
tombstones over the grave of gone victuals. The 
mouth opens, not vertically, up and down, as it does 
in all animals having a vertebrae or backbone, but 
laterally or horizontally, chopping its food from 
side to side, as it does in all animals that have no 

Considering these formidable exterior and inte- 
rior arrangements for the mastication of food, par- 
ticularly the last set of molars in the bottom of the 
stomach, it may seem very curious if these animals 
did not suffer with neuralgia in the jaws and acute 
pangs near the region where Paddy had the 

The eyes of a crab, as we all know, stand upon 
movable peduncles, that are capable of being pro- 
jected, outward and upward, to afford a greater ex- 
tent of vision ; but some of us are not aware that 
their discs are covered by a multitude of facets 
each with its separate nerve and pupil, which ena- 
bles it to embrace thousands of objects in as many 
different directions. 

With this multiplication of the lines of vision 
similar to that in the common house-fly, if he was 
not abandoned to such beastly gluttony, it would 


be the most difficult thing in the world to net him 
from the line, whereas it is found by experience, 
whilst he is engaged with the bait, to be scarcely 
any trouble at all. 

The edible crab caught by fishermen and ex- 
posed for sale in the English markets is known to 
naturalists as the cancer pagurus, and is a very 
different animal from that which inhabits our own 
coasts. In the first place instead of the bluish 
green hue common to ours, it is of a deep lake 
color, except the dactylli, or pincers on the feeding 
claws, which are coal black ; and the shape of the 
shell is somewhat rounder. It has no lateral 
spines, or long sharp projections from the ends of 
the shell ; is several times larger than our own ; 
inhabits the coasts, the shores and mouths of rivers, 
and grows to an enormous size, the shell of one 
measuring 3? feet across the back, being now on 
exhibition in the British museum. 

The ordinary cancer pagurus, which can be 
bought for three or four shillings in the London 
markets, are generally about a foot across the shell, 
and a single claw with the proper fixings will fur- 
nish an ordinary breakfast for any reasonable En- 

On our California coast there are several varie- 
ties of crabs, among them the cancer magister and 
C. productus, whose general shape and dimensions 
bear some similarity to the English crab, but whilst 


many of them are certainly more than twice as large 
as our own Chesapeake variety, they fall far short 
in size of the C. pagurus. The larger specimens 
of the English crab inhabit the deeper waters of 
the ocean channels, and are frequently denomi- 
nated channel crabs or " channelers. " This crab 
was the largest known to our forefathers when they 
emigrated to the shores of Maryland, and it was 
doubtless for this reason that the largest and oldest 
of our Chesapeake variety were first denominated 
"channelers," to distinguish them from the younger 
members of the family. The edible crabs on this 
side of the Atlantic have been divided into several 
classes of the genus callinectes, our Chesapeake 
crab being known as the callinectes hastatus, to 
distinguish it from the several other divisions, the 
C. laratus, ornatus, diacanthus, &c. 

There is, one might think, a great deal known 
about crabs, but when all that is known is aggra- 
gated and compared with what is yet to be learned, 
it appears to be so deficient on so many points, 
that it is quite unsatisfactory at last. 

No one has yet determined with positive accu- 
racy the time required for the ripening of the eggs 
of the female, but from what data I have been ena- 
bled to gather from my own observation, I am 
convinced that it must be about nine months, the 
females which are impregnated in September de- 
livering their progeny to the waters in the following 


June, and those which are impregnated in Novem- 
ber, in the more Southern waters, delivering them 
in August. 

In reference to the number of young produced 
by a single female in a season, to those who are not 
familiar with the multitudinous progeny of the 
smaller marine animals, the simple truth will ap- 
pear but the invention of wild imagination. But 
to those who have devoted attention to such sub- 
jects, and accustomed themselves by degrees, to 
the wonderful results of submarine procreation, 
what would appear to the common appreciation as 
the acme of all extravance is simply the rule, 
whilst what would seem to be eminently natural, 
as a general rule, is simply the exception with ma- 
rine animals. 

When it is considered that some of the smaller 
marine animals, a single oyster for instance, may 
exude 6,000,000 of its progeny per annum, we will 
not be surprised that the crab, which has a greater 
capacity for self-protection than the bivalves, and 
therefore not the necessity of that immense multi- 
plication, which is necessary for it to survive to all 
time, against its numerous enemies, is capable of 
reproducing itself at the rate of hundreds of thou- 
sands or perhaps millions per annum. 

Well, it is not exactly settled that our present 
particular subject, the caliinectes, do produce mil- 
lions, though it may be millions or may be 100,- 


ooo, and the reason why it is not, is that if they 
were all caught and ranged in single file it would 
take about a month to count them, and as no old 
fogy has been found, as yet sufficiently expert and 
devoted to perform that labor, the only means of 
ascertainment depended on, is to take the sponge 
or the ball as it is called by fishermen, which forms 
under and distends the apron of the female, and 
count a number of the eggs (which are smaller 
than a mustard seed, in a given weight of a cer- 
tain quantity of its bulk, and determine the con- 
tents of the whole by calculation. 

A fully developed female will exude in one sea- 
son, about 2,000,000 eggs, ripened and bursting 
into life as they are given to the waters. 

The period of its natural life, either in confine- 
ment or a state of nature, has not, as yet, I believe 
been accurately settled ; although it is natural to 
infer from its habit of burrowing in the mud in the 
bottom during the winter, and from other circum- 
stances, including the faculty of reproducing lost 
members, that it was not created for a mere 
ephemeral existence, and probably lives through a 
few years — how many it is difficult to determine. 

And here, let me say, what may be said of every 
species of the crab family, malacostraca, entramos- 
traca, brachyura and macroura, decapods, stomo- 
pods, lameapods, aripods, isapods and hexapods, 
and all kinds and descriptions of shapes, tails, 


shells and feet, that their carcasses or shells con- 
tain upon analysis, from 60 to 80 per cent, of the 
phosphate and carbonate of lime, and that the limi- 
lus polyphemus, or king crab of the lower shores 
of Maryland and Virginia, which infests our coasts 
from Sandy Hook to the Bay of Corpus Christi, 
certainly attains a longevity of not less than 50 
years, and is so abundant, at particular seasons, on 
the Delaware Bay, that an agricultural fertilizing 
establishment located there, manufactures about 
50 tons of them every year, into a first-class 

The cancer pagurus, or common crab of the 
English and Irish channels, without doubt, attains 
the age of ten or more years, and if our own blue 
crab does not last through a period of more than 
two or three, as is maintained by some, it is un- 
questionably among the most short-lived of its 

As before stated, all crabs are produced from 
eggs. In the progress of the blue crab to maturity, 
it undergoes several transformation of its shape, 
the zoa, megalops and post megalops stages. It 
is necessary that all animals should grow, and 
crustaceans are a sort of hard-shell variety that 
can not grow without slurring. The laws of nature 
find it necessary that our blue crab should grow 
with great rapidity in its earlier stages, in order to 
become able to take care of itself, either by flight 



or battle. To this end it is enabled to exuviate 
or sluff, as we say, its outer covering with great 

Zooa — Appearance of Young Crab immediately after 
being hatched from the Egg. 

Megalops — Second Metamorphosis or Stage of Young 


Third Metamorphosis or Stage of Crab, approaching 
very nearly to the perfect or full-grown Crab. 

In the post-megalops, or third stage of trans- 
formation, it will be seen that all that is necessary 
to make up the adult form in which we generally 
find it, is the rounding up of the front of the 
shell covering the eyes, and its lateral elongation, 
giving the animal its elliptical shape, and its sharp 
lateral spines. 

All these transformations, seem to require not 
more than 30 days, and when the adult or perfect 
elliptical shape is attained, at the last stage, the ani- 
mal will not measure more than \ or I of an inch 
across the shell. 

The different metamorphoses of a crab, pre- 
vious to the assumption of its adult form, has ref- 
erence to both sexes, but there is a transformation 
beyond these, peculiar to the female. 


The male is distinguished from the female not 
only in the shape of the apron, the male having it 
far more elongated, but also by a marked difference 
in the colors of the chelipeds or feeding claws. 

The dactyli or pouches, on those of the male, 
are of a bright blue, tipped with purple, whilst 
those of the female are of a bright red tipped wdth 
the same color. 

Our Chesapeake crab generally makes his first 
appearance in the early spring in the region of the 
capes, and more abundantly than elsewhere in 
Lynnhaven Bay, where they hibernate or pass the 
winter in immense numbers at the bottom. 

As the season advances they make their way 
up the bay, and generally about the last of June, 
though they came a w r eek earlier this year, arrive 
in the Patapsco, from which they begin to take 
their southward course about the first of August, 
at about which time they begin very gradually to 
decrease in our immediate waters. 

When overtaken in the change of seasons by a 
temperature, that they do not consider healthy, 
they plant themselves promptly in the mud at the 
bottom of the deepest water at hand, and begin 
their winter's nap. 

Their beds are constantly disturbed by the 
oystermen, from the neighborhood of Annapolis as 
far down as Lynnhaven, and they extend still 
further into the holes, or deep muddy indentations 
on the bottom along the Atlantic coast. 


The first that are brought to Norfolk and Bal- 
timore in the early spring are obtained by the oys- 
termen from the Lynnhaven region. 

We have before considered their propensities, 
and vicious and belligerent nature, so that the 
manner of their growth, and the exudation of their 
shells, will about finish up what is to be said of 
" Callenectes Hastatus." 

The frequency of moulting the shell is incapa- 
ble of being reduced to any unform rule, and is to 
a great extent arbitrary with individuals, depending 
much upon circumstances. It may take place at 
any time during their summer-life, but seems to 
happen most frequently during the fulling of the 
moon. There is even undoubted evidence that it 
may occur during their hibernation in the mud, as 
they have been frequently dragged up by oyster- 
men in all conditions of moulting from the peeler 
to the paper-shell. 

The process itself is nothing short of a natural 
wonder. For some days previous to its accom- 
plishment, a thin integument begins to form be- 
tween the shell and the coverings of the minutest 
parts of the interior body, and the whole muscular 
system becomes watery and relaxed, so that it is 
capable of being greatly compressed without injury 
to its integrity. Were this not the case, it would 
be impossible for the animal to withdraw itself en- 
tire, posteriorly as it does, and extract its legs with 


their new and delicate integument complete, from 
their more rigid covering, particularly its frontal 
claws, which are much larger between than at the 
joints, and could not otherwise be dragged without 
injury through the narrower portions. 

When the process is finally completed, the crab 
lies, after his exhausting labour, inert upon the 
sands, with scarcely any power of motion beyond 
that which is necessary to enable him to settle 
down, to some extent, in the soft bottom on which 
he rests. In this condition he is called a soft crab, 
and thought very nice for a fry. He is soft, cer- 
tainly, but the way he looks at it, he is something 
more. He knows he is not drunk, because he be- 
longs to the cold water army, but a sicker crab 
was never seen — so very sick and weak and watery 
and nervous — that he is scarcely able to move, and 
is for a short time a helpless prey to the very meanest 
of his enemies. Examination will show that he 
has left behind him a sort of cuticle or skin of 
every organ in his body, no matter whether it lies 
longitudinally, laterally or vertically, whether it be 
large or microscopically small. 

You will find in the sluff not only a sort of cuti- 
cle of every distinct organ of the internal body, 
but even that of the molars, mandibles, maxillaries, 
palpi and attennse, by which all his finer senses are 
directed, as well as of the delicate machinery of the 
stomach, including the grinders at the entrance of 


the great bowel before referred to. When he is 
gone you find that he not only escaped literally 
" by the skin of his teeth," but that he has ex- 
tracted his own stomach, as it were, from itself, 
carrying off the inside and leaving only the skin of 
the delicate organs behind, by a most inexplicable 
and magical process. And inasmuch as it must 
have been necessary for him to avail himself of the 
full action of this centre of vitality to assist in sus- 
taining him in the enervating labor of slufnng, it 
must have been first necessary to swallow his own, 
stomach in order to begin the work. 



The Lobster. 

Homarus gammarus. 

The Lobster. 

The scientific name of the lobster is homarus 
gammarus from the Latin name gammarus y which 
again comes from the Greek word gammaros. 
The Italians call it Gambare di mare and the 


Spaniards Crada/o, both of which names evidently 
come from the Latin. The Illyrians call it Caran- 
thola. It does not seem certain whether the Nor- 
wegian and Ger>nan name Hummer and the 
French name Homar can be derived from gam- 
marus, as our name is very old, and may have its 
root in the Old Norse verb homa, which means to 
go backward. The English name lobster is only a 
modification of the name longusta, applied to the 
closely related genus, which is specially found in 
the Mediterranean ; and the Dutch name Zeekruft 
simply means a sea-crawfish. In the Scandinavian 
sagas, especially in their poetical portions it is of- 
ten mentioned, In Snorre's Edda, in the song 
Skaldskaparsmal, (chapter 75 of the Copenhagen 
edition,) it is mentioned among fish and other 
marine animals. In Olaf den Helliges Saga, it is 
mentioned in a song of Bjorn Heldolekaempe, 
where the sea is poetically described as the " paths 
of the lobster.'' In a similar poetical sense, the 
word is used in Olaf Trygvesen's Saga, chapter %% y 
by the Skjald Thord Kolbeinsson, where he says 
that " the wave-horses run over the field of the 
lobster," meaning the ships that sail on the waves 
of the sea. In a song by Snigly Holle, in Harald 
Haardraades Saga, chapter 105, the expression, 
"To be at the bottom with the lobster," is used 
for drowning. In the Selkolle songs of Einar Gil- 
son, in Bishop Gudmund's Saga, the term, " light 


of the lobster," equivalent to the fire of the sea, or 
gold is used. In the same place, the expression 
" the horse of the lobster mountain, " meaning the 
ship, is used. Finally, there is found in the poem 
Liknar-braut, the expression " land lobster," mean- 
ing a serpent or dragon. 

The lobster belongs to the class of crustaceans, 
and among them to the highest section, the so-called 
order of decapods, which embrace short-tailed 
(brachyrura), and long-tailed (macrura) spe- 
cies. The lobster has a great similarity to the 
common crawfish, {Astacus fluviatilis^) living 
in brooks and small rivers, out is distinguished 
from it by 'having the last segment of the thorax 
united with the preceding one, while in Astacus 
it is separate. It was therefore considered by 
Mine-Edwards to be the type of a new genus 
Homarus. Of this genus, the representatives of 
which live exclusively in the sea, three species are 
known, viz : Homarus Americanus Say, i. e., the 
American lobster found on the coasts of North 
America. From this the European Homarus gam- 
marus is only distinguished by having a narrow 
spine on its forehead, and teeth only on its upper 
margin, while the former species has also teeth on 
the lower margin. There is finally the little Ho- 
marus caftenszs, from the Cape of Good Hope, 
which is not more than five inches long. The 
European lobster seems to have its central location 


on the southwestern coast of Norway, and goes as 
far north as Finmarkin, where, according to Lem, in 
his description of the Finmarken Laplanders, 1767, 
it is found north of Traenen, where he ate very 
fine ones on the Island of Rhodo, while formerly 
their northern limit was thought to be the island 
of Brondo, but he also thinks that they would be 
found in Finmarken, if people only searched for 
them. It is very rarely found on the coast of Ice- 
land, where, according to Mohr's " Islandske 
Naturhistorie," it has been found by Dr. Poulsen 
in Grondevig, but it does not extend to Greenland 
or Spitzbergen. It does not go into the Baltic, 
but is found all over the Kategat. especially near 
Anholt, Hirsholmene, Laeso and Hjelm, and, ac- 
cording to Mr. Fiddler's report, in the Great Belt 
as far as Sprogo. On the coast of Bohuslen it is 
very common, and is said to go into the Sound as 
far as the island Hveen. On the west coast of Jut- 
land, it is found wherever the bottom is stony, and 
it is very common near Heligoland. 

It is very rare in the inner portion of the bay 
of Christiania, and not very common in the Lim- 
ford. On the coasts of England, Scotland and 
Ireland, it is common wherever there is a rocky 
bottom, especially near Montrose, Orkney, Lewis 
and Harris islands, and on the southern coast of 
England, near Land's end and the Scilly Islands. 
Near the Channel Islands it is common, as well as 


near several groups of islands on the French coast. 
In the Mediterranean, it is not so common, al- 
though it is not entirely wanting, but its substitute 
as an article of food is another large species of 
crawfish, the Langusta {Palinurus). It is there- 
fore not spread over a very large extent of sea, but 
it is found in its central locations in very large 
numbers, and there becomes an important article 
of food and trade. 

Its general size is 8 to to inches from the point 
of the spine on the forehead to the tip end of the 
tail. It rarely exceeds this size where large fish- 
eries are carried on ; but now and then specimens of 
much larger size are found in places from which none 
are exported, and where it consequently has time to 
grow before it is caught. Thus, Pontoppidan, in 
his " Norges naturlige Historie," part ii. p. 279, 
says the very large lobsters are called " Storjer," 
and that near Utvaer, on the Bay of Evien, a lob- 
ster had been seen which was so large and ugly 
that nobody dared to attack it, and that it measured 
a full fathom between the claws. This seems cer- 
tainly to be somewhat exaggerated ; but I myself 
have seen the claw of one which must have been 
about 18 inches long. Sir John Graham Dalyell 
says, in his work " The Powers of the Creator," 
1827, that he had seen a joint of the left claw of a 
lobster that measured 9 inches in length. Ac- 
cording to this the whole claw must have have mea- 


sured 18 to 24 inches, and the whole animal 3 to 4 
feet. As a general rule, those that are taken in the 
fiords of Norway are larger than those which are 
caught near the islands toward the sea. The color 
of the animal when alive is generally a blackish 
green, with several blue spots ; but it may also be 
lighter, especially near the mouths of fiords, while 
farther out toward the sea it becomes much dark- 
er. I may mention as a curiosity that during the 
year 1868 I found a lobster, one-half of which was 
of a greenish black, and the other of a light orange 
color, there being a sharp and clearly-defined di- 
viding line, which ran lengthwise, and divided the 
lobster in two halves of equal size. 

The lobster lives close to the coast, where there 
is a rocky bottom, among the large algae ; but in 
winter, when the water grows cooler, it descends as 
far down as 16 to 20 fathoms, while in spring, when 
the temperature of the sea rises, it stays at a depth 
of from 1 to 4 fathoms. It is altogether a coast 
animal, which very rarely seems to go any distance 
from its birth-place, if it can readily find there a 
sufficient supply of food. Sometimes, however, 
they have been seen in large masses swimming to- 
ward the land from the sea, and they have then 
been caught in nets, having been mistaken for a 
school of herrings ; but this is only a consequence 
of local migrations, when it goes from the deeper 
into the shallower waters. It is not able to make its 


way through the sea for any length of time by 
swimming. Its structure certainly allows it to make 
quick and definite movements, and it can swim 
freely about in the sea, but this swimming never 
lasts long, as it cannot keep itself afloat very long. 
Neither is it able, while swimming, to catch and 
swallow its food ; but it seizes its prey only when it 
can hold on to something. At the bottom of the 
sea it can chase its prey, if necessary, with great 
rapidity, but while eating it remains quite still. 
The lobster is a very greedy animal, and can swal- 
low great quantities of food, which it seems to find, 
especially during the night, by its scent, while 
during the day it keeps quiet and digests. Its food 
consists chiefly of the roe of fish and of dead fish, 
but likewise of small crustaceans and other marine 
animals. When kept in confinement it can live for 
a considerable time without food. The lobster 
seems to be able to propagate when it is a little 
more than six inches long, (at least, roe is only 
found in animals of this size;) but when the lobster 
reaches a length of eight inches it contains a great 
quantity of rcte. When ripe the eggs are emitted, 
but do not fall into the water, as they are held in a 
hollow which is formed by the bent tail, which, both 
at the end and on the sides, has leaf-shaped fringes 
that inclose the space formed by the bending of the 
tail. Under this tail there is fastened a double row 
of the so-called tail-feet, to which the eggs are 


strung by strong slimy strings. The embryo now 
begins to develop in these eggs, which are quite 
numerous, 2,000 to 3,000 in one female, according 
to the size, and occasionally as many as 10,000 to 
12,000. The formation of the embryo does not, 
however, seem to begin till the temperature of the 
water has become milder in spring, even if the pair- 
ing should have taken place in autumn or winter ; 
for, although loose roe is often found in winter, it 
is never seen in any degree developed into an em- 
bryo. This pairing and the development of the 
roe seem to take place at different times on the 
different portions of the coast \ for the fishermen 
themselves, who have such an excellent opportu- 
nity of observing them, are not agreed as to the 
actual time. The development of the embryo 
seems to take at least fourteen days from the time 
of commencement, and it can easily be observed 
till the young break the shells of the eggs and begin 
to lead an independent life. When the young 
lobster comes out of the egg it measures only a few 
lines in length, and does not at all resemble the old 
lobster, but has a different structure. It does not 
leave the hollow under its mother's tail immediately 
after being hatched, but lives there for some time, 
and later frequently returns to it. It is particularly 
distinguished by a less complete development of 
its feelers and tail-feet, and by the feet being ex- 
ceedingly small, but furnished with long brush-like 

86 THE LOBS T E R . 

branches, with which it swims vigorously on the 
surface of the water. After having spent some 
time in this state it changes its skin several times 
and assumes the shape of its mother, when it goes 
to the bottom. Its life from this moment till it 
reaches a size of 5 to 6 inches is entirely unknown ; 
for no young lobsters have been caught, either by 
fishermen or scientists, the smallest having been 
found in the stomach of the torsk, so that it is 
probable that they spend this portion of their life 
at a greater depth and live in a different manner 
and on other food than at a later period. There 
cannot, therefore, be any artificial hatching of lob- 
sters in the sense of artificial fish-hatching, but all 
that can be done is to keep the lobster imprisoned 
during the development of the eggs, and thus pro- 
tect it from the dangers which threaten it and its 
young. It is impossible to do anything for the 
tender young, as they die very soon when confined. 
I see, however, that several persons in France, and 
Mr. von Eris, in the lagoons of Triest, near Grado, 
have hatched several millions of young lobsters by 
keeping lobsters with ripe roe at the bottom of the 
sea in perforated boxes. 

After the lobster has emitted its roe, and the 
young have left the mother, she begins to shed. 
She therefore goes to safe places, and does not seem 
to care much for food, while the old skin is being 
loosened ; the shell finally opens in the back, and 


the animal goes into the water naked. It then 
looks as if it was covered with velvet, on account 
of the considerable formation of cells which is going 
on all over its surface. These cells afterward grow 
hard through small particles of lime, and form the 
new shell. This shedding of the shell goes on from 
the middle of July till September, but not at the 
same time all along the coast, being earlier in the 
southern and later in the northern part. The lob- 
ster thus gets sick, as it is called, toward the end of 
June. Farther north the shedding of the shell be- 
gins still later, and lobsters may be caught all 
through July. 

The crawfish or crayfish, that lives in brooks 
and rivers, is fashioned after the lobster, only 
smaller ; so one of these can be studied by those of 
you who live inland. One thing is very certain — 
he has a great many different parts, very unlike 
each other. First, you see he is covered with a 
shell, which, like the mussel's and clam's, is his exo- 
skeleton. This shell is very hard, like stone, and 
it is colored purplish black with pale spots here and 
there. The lobsters which you see in shops are 
always scarlet. When these poor fellows are 
caught they are plunged alive into boiling water, 
which turns the black coat red. This outside shell 
or exo-skeleton is made up of a great many differ- 
ent pieces, instead of two, as the mussel's ; but 
those pieces are shaped and joined in such a way 


as to make three divisions of the body — a head, a 
thorax, or breastplate, and an abdomen. The head- 
piece of the shell is pointed in front, forming the 
beak or frontal spine. Behind this head-piece is a 
groove or seam where the head joins the breast or 
thorax, making the two pieces of shell which cover 
the head and breast all one. So the first and sec- 
ond divisions of the body thus joined in one are 
called the cephalo-thoraxorhead breastplate. The 
large pieces of shell, with the seam that covers the 
back and sides of the cephalo-thorax, is called the 
carapace or shield. It is the front sharp point of 
this shield (carapace) that is called the frontal spine 
or beak. Behind the head and breast (cephalo- 
thorax) lies the third division of the body — the 
abdomen — which is made up of seven pieces or 

The first six joints are called somites or bodies, 
and the last joints or tail piece is called a telson, which 
means end. So the body of the lobster is made up 
of six somites and a telson ; each body piece has a 
pair of soft -jointed paddles on its under side, and 
these are called swimmerets or little swimmers. 
The lower joints of these paddles have two broad, 
flat toes. The paddles on the last or sixth somite 
are different from the others ; they are wider and 
turned backward so as to lie at each side of the 
tail-piece, telson; and these great-fingered paddles, 
taken with the telson, form what is calle'd the tail- 


fin. The under or ventral part of each somite, 
which lies between the paddles is called the ster- 
num. The rounded upper or dorsal part of 
the body-piece is the tergum, which means 
the back. In front of the abdomen, with its som- 
ites, is the cephalo-thorax. This cephalo-thorax 
has a tergum or back part, a sternum, or under 
part, a pleuron, or side part, and so many things 
are hanging down from it one can hardly count, 
much less learn them. 

Counting from behind forward, you will find 
between the lobster's body, or abdomen, and the 
head, eight pair of jointed legs, one pair much 
longer and larger than the others, with huge pincers 
at the ends. All these eight pair are called the tho- 
racic appendages, because they are fastened to the 
thorax, or breast-plate. The lobster uses the four 
pairs for walking, and so they are called the am- 
bulatory limbs. The last pair has seven joints, and 
every joint works in a different direction ; so, when 
these hind-legs start off, it is hard to tell where 
they intend to go. The next pair of walking-legs 
are like the hindmost pair, except that the first 
joint sends out a piece above it, which is kept out 
of sight in a little room in the side of the lobster. 
We shall say more about this room by and by. 

The two front pair of walking-legs send up 
pieces also into this chamber, but the end of the leg 
is different from the last two pairs, for they have 


pincers, or chelae. Now we have come to the lar- 
gest pair; the chelae, or pincers at the ends, are so 
large and strong that they are called the " great 
chelae." They are the lobster's weapons of de- 
fense. When he is taken prisoner, that is, seized 
by one of his claws, he quietly leaves the claw in 
the hands of his astonished captor, and beats his 
retreat as fast as possible. He has another odd way 
of laying down his arms when he is frightened by 
a great noise, such as thunder, or the firing of a 
cannon. It is no uncommon thing to find a num- 
ber of these broken swords lying about among the 
rocks, showing where there has been a lobster 
fright or fight. As soon as one claw goes, another 
takes its place, but it is some time before the new 
one gets as long and strong as the old one. 

You will notice quite a difference between the 
two large claws, or forceps. In one, the teeth are 
large and blunt, and in the other they are very 
sharp. The blunt-toothed pincers the lobster uses 
as an anchor to moor himself, while with the other 
he attacks aud seizes his prey. So much for the 
great jaws, or chelae. The next three pair are call- 
ed maxilipedes, or foot-jaws, because they act both 
as teeth. and feet. The hindmost foot-jaw has three 
divisions. One branch passes up into the side- 
chamber of the lobster; the middle branch is long 
and jointed ; this, and its fellows on the other side, 
act as a pair of scissors, cutting the food. The 


third branch is joined, and is a walking-leg. The 
middle foot-jaw (maxilipede) is much like the last, 
while the front one does not send a piece upward 
into the side-chamber and one of its branches is 
flattened out so as to look like leaves. The four 
walking-legs, the great pincers (chelae) and the 
three pair of footjaws (maxilipedes,) making eight 
pair in all, belong to the lobster's breast (thorax.) 
Now we come to the head, which is provided with 
six pair of " hangers-on," or appendages. The 
two back-pair belonging to the head are called 
maxillae, because they lie at the side of the mouth, 
and are like jaws. The hindmost of the jaws — or 
maxillae — on each side has a boat-shaped, or oval 
shaped, or oval plate which lies at the front en- 
trance of the side chamber, about which we will 
hear more presently. The ends of the front pair 
of little jaws (maxillae) are leafy like those of the 
front pair or footjaws (maxilipedes.) Now we come 
to the jaw itself, or mandible, which has strong teeth 
bears a small appendage, the palp, and lies at the 
side of the mouth. From all this you see that the 
mouth of the lobster is well armed with teeth and 
scissors to tear and cut its food. Counting from 
the front it has first the true jaws (mandibles;) then 
the two pair of little jaws (maxillae;) and these are 
followed by the three pairs of foot-jaws (maxili- 
pedes), making altogether six pair, which are all 
turned up against the mouth. In front of the jaw 

92 THE L O B S TE'R. 

are two very long jointed feelers called antennae, 
but you seldom see them at their full-length; they 
are easily broken. Next to the feelers (antennae) 
are two little feelers or antennules, and last of all, 
in front, comes a pair of joints which support the 
eyes, called the optic pair of appendages. Now 
let us begin with the eyes, and go back to the tail, 
to see how many pairs of feelers, jaws, hands, feet 
and paddles the lobster owns. He has six pairs 
attached to the head, eight pairs to the breast, 
(thorax,) and six pairs to the body (abdomen) ; 
in all, twenty pairs, and very few of these append- 
ages are alike. 

You now have a pretty good idea of the exo- 
skeleton, or hard outside part of the lobster, and 
we shall look next at the soft parts inside. The 
mouth seems a very good place to begin at, and 
you will find it between the mandibles or jaws. In 
front of it is a lip, shaped like an escutcheon, and 
is called the labrum, which means lip. At the 
back of the mouth is another lip, the meiastoma, 
meaning beyond the mouth, and this is looked 
upon as the lower lip. The mouth as in the mus- 
sel opens into a gullet or aesophagus. This meat- 
pipe opens into a four-cornered box — the stomach 
— which is very curiously made. 

Near the centre of the box, the walls come 
almost together, dividing it into two parts ; the 
front part is the larger, and it is called the cardiac 


end, because in the human body the first part of 
the stomach points toward the heart, but you see, 
in the lobster, it points away from the heart. It 
contains three strong, colored teeth, fastened to a 
T-shaped frame, and worked by muscles, which 
are fastened to the inside of the breast plate (cara- 
pace). These teeth meet in the middle of the 
stomach, and form a powerful grinding machine, 
which crushes the food like stones in a mill. Some 
times, when you find the empty shell of a lobster 
on the sea-shore, you can see a perfect mould of 
the old mill — "the mill wheel gone to decay." 
How the lobster gets out of his shell, and how he 
turns the mill out of his stomach, we shall study 
after a while. The small back part of the stomach 
is called the pyloric end and it is made inside like 
a sieve or strainer. The sides are stuffed out in 
the centre like cushions, and quite covered with 
hairs. Let us see why. Pylorus means gate- 
keeper. It protects or guards the intestines from 
all intruders, such as big pieces of meat and hard 
bodies. None but the finest particles can pass 
through the strainer, and hence this pylorus is a 
very good gate-keeper. The intestine does not 
go wandering about in the body like the mussel's, 
but passes straight back, and ends at the anus, at 
the under part of the tail-piece (telson). On each 
side of the cephalo-thorax lies a long, soft yel- 
lowish green mass. This is the liver, and it opens 


into the small, pyloric end of the stomach by sev- 
eral ducts or pipes on each side. Away up in the 
front part of the cephalo-thorax, at the base of the 
feelers (antennae) on either side you may see a soft 
green mass called the " green gland." This is 
supposed to be the kidney. Next we will take a 
look into the side chambers of the cephalo-thorax, 
and see what the three pair of walking legs the 
great pincers (chelae), and the two pairs of jaw-feet 
are doing in there. In each chamber we find 
eighteen little, tapering, feathery - like bodies. 
Each has a central stem, surrounded by fine, feath- 
ery filaments. They look very much like so many 
little bottle-brushes. These are the gill-plumes, 
and this room is called the gill, or branchial cham- 
ber. The gills are placed in two sets, six in one 
and twelve in the other. The first row is fastened 
to the six feet or appendages of the breast (thorax) 
which we found pushing themselves up into the 
chamber. The other twelve are fastened to the 
pleuron or side-pieces of the cephalo-thorax. 
These gills are not covered with stiff hairs (cilia) 
as the mussel's, so there must be some other plan 
of moving the water. There is a very curious 
piece of machinery at the front entrance. You 
remember the oval or boat- shaped plate in front of 
the chamber, formed by the hindmost little jaw 
(maxilla). This plate is called the scapho-gnathite 
which means the little skiff- like jaw. It is made 


on the plan of the Archimedean screw of a pro- 
peller, and is set in motion by the jaws. The 
water enters the back part of the gill chamber by 
a slit, and it is scooped out by the screw through 
the opening in front, bubbling and frothing as it 
goes. Thus, the mechanism of the screw was all 
worked out in our little lobster long years before 
it was discovered by the great Archimedes. The 
tiny net-work of the blood vessels is spread over 
the frame-work of the gill-plumes, just as you 
found it on the lattice-work of the mussel's gill- 
pockets. As the screw propels the water through 
the branchial or gill chamber the blood takes out 
the oxygen from the air in the water, and gives 
back carbonic acid. You remember how the 
strong hairs (cilia) of the pockets sweep the water 
along over the mussel's gills, and how the little 
blood-vessels take up their oxygen and give up 
their carbonic acid. The gills that are fastened to 
the legs move when the legs move, and the faster 
they go the more water they use. So much for 
the lobsters breathing or respiration. We will 
leave his circulation, muscles and nerves for anoth- 
er chapter. 

The eyes, as you have seen, are away in front 
at the ends of the first pair of appendages — the 
eye-stalks. The eye is kidney-shaped ; instead of 
having one window or pupil as your eye has, 
through which the light enters, the whole front is 


divided into squares like old-fashioned window 
panes. Each square is really a separate eye, and 
this is called a compound eye. The lobster's eye 
sight must be very good, for, besides having all 
those eyes, the stalks are jointed so that they can 
turn them in different directions. The nerve which 
goes to the eye is called the optic nerve, and it is 
connected with each square by pretty rods and 
cones, which look like those in your own eye. 
The rods and cones are covered with coloring, 
matter or pigment, which turns red when it is 
boiled. The optic nerve is a nerve of sensation, 
because it gives the lobster the sense of sight. 

Now, where are the lobster's ears ? Not in the 
foot, as the mussel's but in their proper place— the 
head. If you look at the base of the little feelers, 
on each side you will find a little three-cornered 
slit, covered with hairs. This slit leads into a small 
sac filled with water. One side of this sac is 
pushed inward to form a sort of fold or pocket, in 
which a nerve which comes from the brain or 
head — ganglia — spreads itself out. The side of the 
pocket toward the water is covered with fine hairs, 
and these hairs touch against little bits of sand 
which get into the water through the outside slit. 
These particles of sand are like the tiny stones or 
otoliths you found in the mussel's ear-sac, and they 
likewise help to increase the sound. The lobster's 
ear is made on much the same plan as your own ; 


the sac is really a fold of the lobster's skin, which 
is pushed in as you might push in the crown of 
your soft hat. 

Now, I dare say you are wishing to hear about 
the lobster's bairns or little ones. The lobster's 
eggs are covered with soft, sticky glue, which fas- 
tens them to the long hairs which cover the pad- 
dles under the abdomen. The good mother lob- 
ster doubles up her body so that the eggs are all 
folded inward safe from harm. Hundreds of eggs 
are carried in this way, and when the lobster is 
boiled they turn red, and form what is called the 
coral. The baby-lobsters differ greatly from their 
parents. Their eyes are very large, and set in the 
head instead of in eye-stalks. They have a great 
rounded head- shield (carapse,) and a small body. 
The limbs are not at all like the lobster's; alto- 
gether, he looks as if his eyes and head were run- 
ning away with him. As soon as he is hatched he 
begins to swim about and feed himself, and never 
goes back to the old home. Of course, as he 
grows, his shell gets too small, but, instead of put- 
ting on an addition as the mussel does, he leaves 
the old house altogether and builds a new one. In 
three days after the lobster moves out of the old 
house he has been found all settled in a bran-new 
one one-third larger. Two round balls are often 
found in the lobster's stomach, and people call 
them if crab's-eyes." These balls are made of 


lime, which it is said the lobster has been storing 
up for his new shell. Thus the lobster moves " out 
of the old house into the new" every year until he 
gets his growth. Then he lives contentedly under 
the same roof until he dies, or until some one 
throws him into a lobster-pot. 


Hard Cla: 

Venus Mercenaria. — Quahog. — Wampum.— Round Clam. 
Hard Clam. 

The Hard Clam. 

Round clam ( Venus mercenaria?) The round 
clam is a species of edible Venus, almost as abun- 
dant upon the coast as the My a arenaria, and 


rivals that mollusk as an article of food, although 
it is of far less importance as bait for the fisheries. 

In some places it has retained its ancient name 
of quahog, by which it was known to the aborigines 
of North America. The Indians manufactured out 
of the violet part of the shell colored beads, called 
wampum, which served them as money. The mol- 
lusks which they used came for the most part from 
Long Island, called, in the picturesque language of 
the Mohicans, " the Island of Shells. " 

The round clam has a regular, thick shell, very 
convex, with crenulated margins, and three cardinal 
teeth in each valve. The exterior surface presents 
numerous concentric lines, and a few more promi- 
nent ones. The part near the umbones is always 
more or less worn. The ligament, of a brown 
color, is large and very apparent; the lunule is 
oval. The " round clam," or simply "clam," as it 
is called along the coast of the Middle and South- 
ern States, differs in several important characters, 
especially the armature of the hinge, from the typi- 
cal species of Venus, and is therefore now gene- 
rally regarded as the representative of a distinct 
genus, and accordingly called Merce?iaria violacea. 
The exterior surface is ordinarily of a dirty white 
color, and sometimes bluish, according to the 
nature of the ground inhabited by the animaL 
There are two muscular impressions, and the inte- 
rior edges of the valves are of a violet color, more 


or less deep in proportion to the age of the animal. 
These mollusks, when fully grown, are commonly 
three inches and a half long, two inches and a half 
wide, and three inches thick. 

The Venus notata is a species of clam very 
nearly allied to the one just mentioned, and is pro- 
bably only one of its varieties. 

Round clams exist in great abundance on the 
American coast, from Cape Cod almost to the ex- 
tremity of Florida. Clams are nowhere so abun- 
dant as in Long Island Sound ; in the great bay 
south of this island; in the bay off Sandy Hook; 
upon the shores of Jersey, and at the mouth of the 
Delaware. They are also taken in great quantities 
in Chesapeake Bay, and in Albemarle and Pamlico 
Sounds. They are generally found on the shores 
of gulfs, of bays, and of the mouths of large 
rivers, which are less exposed to the action of the 
waves than the open coast. Their beds are at a 
depth varying from 6 to 25 feet below the surface 
of the water at low tide. Like all the mollusks of 
that family, they prefer a large proportion of mud 
with the sand in which they live. They bury them- 
selves only a few inches deep, with the siphons di- 
rected upward. During my stay on Long Island 
I frequently saw clams caught, the shells of which 
were covered with sea- weed, a convincing proof of 
the shallow depth at which they are buried in the 


Clams are caught by means of the tongs and 
the rake, the fishermen stationing their boats over 
the beds at the proper state of the tide. The tongs 
in use is exactly like that employed in taking oys- 
ters. As to the rake it is entirely of iron, about 
two feet wide, with semicircular teeth, the curvature 
of which answers the same purpose as the net-pouch 
in the ordinary rake. The teeth are separated 
about a quarter of an inch, and are about two feet 
long. The rake has a light pole for a handle, from 
20 to 25 feet in length, according to the depth of 
the water over the bottom to be explored. 

Clams are never as delicate in flavor as when 
freshly caught. Still, in many places, depots are 
formed for these mollusks in sheltered coves or 
creeks, in order to be ready to supply the exigen- 
cies of commerce. 

At New London the ship-merchants build, in 
addition to their establishments, upon piles at the 
edge of the sea, special structures for the preserva- 
tion of round clams. These consist sometimes of 
floating tanks, which contain several thousands ; 
sometimes of wooden paddocks or pans, shaded 
from the sun arid placed between the piles in such 
a way as to be covered by the tides several hours 
every day. The mollusks live for a long time in 
these reservations, provided too many are not 
crowded into them. 

At the Washington and Fulton markets, in 
New York, clams sell for $3.50 a thousand. 


The fishermen generally supply the dealer di- 
rectly from the banks, taking care to proportion the 
supply, as nearly as possible, to the demand. 
Clams are so hardy, however, that they will at any 
season live for several days out of the water, if 
placed in the shade. In cool weather they will 
survive for as many as fifteen days, and may be 
sent by rail to distant localities in the interior of the 

In summer the consumption of clams in the 
cities of New York and Philadelphia is very con- 
siderable, much greater than that of the My a are- 
naria. Like the latter, sold in their natural condi- 
tion, or out of the shell, they furnish many excel- 
lent dishes, the most esteemed of which is clam 
chowder. Many persons eat the smaller specimens 
raw, and when flavored with a few drops of lemon- 
juice they seem to me as palatable as the clovisses 
\_Tapes virginea and Tapes decucsata\ and the 
paires doubles, [ Venus verrucosa,"] which are the 
especial favorites of the people of Marseilles. 

The hard clam is of very different appearance 
from the other, being a Venus ( Venus mercena- 
rius). Like all of that genus, the shells are chalky, 
roundish, somewhat globose, ornamented with ec- 
centric ribs, the beaks pointing far forward, with a 
deeply curved indentation in front, and the color 
varying from brownish -white to smoke-tint, some- 
times painted with waving lines and zigzags of red 


and brown, there being so much difference between 
varieties from different localities and depths that 
many have been described as distinct species. It 
has very short siphons, slightly parted at the end, 
and a large, muscular foot, with a broad, thin edge, 
by means of which it can burrow in the sand when 
necessary. The foot and fringed edges of the 
mantle are white; the tubes yellowish-orange to- 
ward the end, more or less mottled with brown and 
white. Its home is on firm, sandy, and muddy 
flats, just beyond low water mark, where it is fre- 
quently laid bare by spring tides, since it does not 
burrow like the soft clam, but crawls about only 
half buried in the mud, or conceals itself beneath 
the stones and sea-weed. Its food is similar to that 
of the soft clam, and secured in the same way. It 
abounds not only on the outer beaches, but also in 
estuaries, inhabits the oyster-beds, and lurks among 
the rocks of reefs and inlets from Florida to the 
Gulf St. Lawrence, although rare and local north 
of Cape Cod. 

The Indians along our whole sea coast have 
always been accustomed to eat some sort or another 
of mussels. At Puget's Sound it is the great 
TresuSy which they smoke for winter stores; in 
California, the oyster and other bivalves; in Gulf 
of Mexico, the Gnathodon, of which the shell 
roads around New Orleans and Mobile are made ; 
on the Atlantic shores, the oyster, common and 


horse mussels, razor shell, cockle, scallop, and our 
two clams, besides the fresh water unios and anodons. 
To what an extent these various mollusks fur- 
nished sustenance to the wild tribes of the coast 
and of the Mississippi Valley is shown by the vast 
banks of cast-away shells that remain to mark the 
points of aboriginal habitation. The records of 
exploration show that some parts of the interior of 
Florida are so full of mounds composed of broken 
shells and of wide fields strewed with them, con- 
sisting of unios not only, but also of the smaller 
gasteropods, Ampullaria and Paludina, that the 
fact is commonly known to the people living there ; 
while the savannahs of Georgia, the banks of the 
Mississippi and its tributaries — particularly along 
the Ohio — and even of the Merrimac and Con- 
cord Rivers, in Massachusetts, are dotted with 
heaps of the mussels existing in those rivers, the 
animals of which have been consumed by the In- 
dians. The same sort of remains are found on 
the Pacific slope and in South America. As for 
shell heaps upon ocean coasts, they are world-wide 
in their distribution, and often prominent in ap- 

On certain points of the shores of Denmark 
and Norway, there were disclosed, many years 
ago, banks of marine shells, sometimes a thousand 
feet in length, two hundred feet in breadth and 
ten feet deep. At first these were taken for nat- 


ural deposits, but it was observed that here only 
adult specimens of the littoral fauna were present, 
and closer examination revealed calcined shells, 
circles of blackened stones indicating fire-places, 
fragments of the bones of edible animals, and re- 
mains of rude utensils and implements. Thus it 
came finally to be proved these were the kitchen 
refuse heaps of ancient mollusk eaters, and are 
called " Kjockkenmoeddings." This discovery 
prompted research, and similar deposits were soon 
found in various other parts of the world. Our 
own coast is lined with them from the piles which 
grew up around the door-ways of fishers on the 
low Florida shores, until their huts stood on hil- 
locks above the reach of the highest tides. The 
Indians before they were driven back from the 
coast by white settlers spent a portion of each year 
at these places, probably the winter months, when 
the climate of the shore is warmer than that of the 
interior, while some perhaps lived there perma- 
nently, raising in the cast -away shells unconscious 
monuments of their sea-shore life. At such times 
the two clams, but mainly the quahog formed the 
chief comestible. Roger Williams tells us that 
the Narragansett Indians called the soft clam 
"sickissuog" — " a sweet kind of shell fish," which, 
he says, " and the natural liquors of it, they boil, 
and it makes their broth and their nassaump 
(which is a kind of thickened broth) and their 


bread seasonable and savoury, instead of salt" 
The hard clam they named " sequannock" and 
" poquauhock," concerning which old Roger notes : 
" Obs. : This the English call hens, a little thick 
shell-fish, which the Indians wade deep and dive for, 
and after they have eaten the meat there (in those 
which are good) they brake out of the shell, about 
half an inch of the blacke part of it, of which they 
make their Luckahuok or black money, which is 
to them precious." The black money was worth one 
half as much as the wampum or white money, and 
the " blacke part" used was the purple scar inside of 
the shell, under the beak, where an adducter mus- 
cle was attached, for the anatomy of this species is 
much the same as that of the soft clam. 

Then, as now, it appears that all the hard work 
of obtaining the delicacies fell upon the women. 
A quaint old book written by William Wood, and 
published in London in 1634, entitled " New En- 
gland's Prospect," etc., contains a poem upon the 
kinds of shell-fish, in which the following elegant 
verses occur : 

" The luscious lobster, with the crab-fish raw, 
The briuuish oyster, mussel, periwigge, 

And tortoise sought by the Indian Squaw, 

Which to the flatts dance many a winter's jigge, 
To dive for cockles and to dig for clams, 
Whereby her lazy husband's guts she cramms." 


Not all the shells were thrown away. Various 
implements were made out of them — arrow-points, 
scrapers, paint-holders and spoons. 

" The dainty Indian maize 

Was eat with clamp-shells out of wooden trays." 

The especially noteworthy one of these primi- 
tive festivals was at the time of green-corn, when a 
great assembling of sages and warriors with their 
families was held at the sea-shore, and clams and 
succulent ears and sea-weed were roasted together 
in astonishing quantity, amid all the delights of a 
New England midsummer by the ocean, and every 
savage amusement. So good a custom merited 
perpetuation, and has, indeed survived to the pres- 
ent day in a clam-bake — that patriarchal institution 
of New England, where the icy Puritan might per- 
mit himself to be won a little from his rigor by the 
seductive mussel, and the pious maidens enjoyed 
a momen's timid relax from conscientious austerity 
in the fun of paying Periwinkle. Nor is the cus- 
tom still extinct, although it is no longer possible 
that the clam-bake should be a season of universal 
holiday as of yore. But now and then some great 
occasion in Rhode Island or Connecticut is cele- 
brated much after the traditional fashion, and the 
wise and renowned join in the festivity, as in the 
old days, when Diedrich Knickerbocker and his 
friends sailed over to Communipaw to discuss 


grave questions of Dutch polity as they smoked 
their pipes beside the sunlit bay until the quahogs 
were toasted brown, and they could eat them 
slowly, as befits the viand, and listen to Jacob 
Steendam as sonorously he sang his " Praises of 
New Foundlands :" 

"En Kreeft, en Krab, en Mossels; Oesters die 
Een better is als Europa drie 
In veelheyt heel on-kenbaar vorhem, wie 
'I Mocha onderwinden." 

Now the manner of a modern clam -bake is this : 
a circular heath or bed is first made in the sand, 
with large flat stones, upon which a fire is kept up 
until they are red-hot. A layer of sea weed is then 
placed upon them, and upon the sea-weed a layer 
of clams, about three inches thick, covered by more 
sea-weed ; then follows a layer of green corn in the 
husk, intermixed with potatoes and other vege- 
tables ; then a layer of poultry, cooked and sea- 
soned ; then more sea- weed ; then fish and lob- 
sters, again covered by sea-weed. This arrange- 
ment is continued according to the number of per- 
sons to take part in the feast, and when the pile is 
complete it is covered with a linen cloth to pre- 
vent the steam from escaping. When the whole 
is cooked each one helps himself without ceremony 
to morsels from the delicious mass. 

Except for local consumption along the coast, 
Boston and New York are the chief markets for 


clams ; but it is difficult to ascertain, or even esti- 
mate, the total amounts annually received at these 
and other ports. A large number of vessels, from 
fine schooners of hundreds of tons' burden, to ugly- 
little stoops without shape or comeliness, are em- 
ployed in the trade, but the skippers, as well as 
those who handle the shell-fish on shore, are a 
queer class of men, full of jealousy and prejudice, 
impossible to be persuaded that no harm would re- 
sult from divulging the amounts of their cargoes or 
sales during a twelve-month. But from inquiries 
in Fulton and elsewhere, it appears that not far 
from two million bushels are received annually at 
New York of each species. Immense numbers of 
the hard clams are shipped to the West, packed in 
ice or preserved in the manner of oysters, since 
emigrants have taken to the prairies with them the 
taste for the fry and the chowder, perhaps because 
they find in their salt flavor the best reminder of 
the early home by the sea-side. 


Soft Clam. 

Mya Arenaria. — Nannynose. — Mannynose. — - Long Clam. 
Soft Clam. 

The Soft Clam. 

A moist and muddy clam is not altogether an 
attractive object. Yet there is much about it that 
is interesting. Take up one of those "soft" clams, 
for instance, and look at it. The two oblong, slight, 
bluish-white shells hold within an unintelligible 
yellowish mass, while projecting from one end is a 


blackish, wrinkled lump that, upon being irritated, 
quickly withdraws, throwing out at the same time 
a stream of water, while the shells shut tightly to- 
gether. But put this forbidding-looking creature 
in a shallow pan of fresh sea-water, twelve or fifteen 
inches in length. Although this, its natural ele- 
ment, is no doubt instantly grateful to it, the ani- 
mal must be left quietly for a few hours before it 
recovers confidence. Then the blackened tube — 
of which a glimpse was afforded before — gradually 
protrudes from between the margins of the two 
halves or valves of the shell, and slowly extends 
itself until a length of several inches is displayed. 
Now it is easy to see that this organ has two open- 
ings at the end, beautifully fringed with appenda- 
ges like little feelers, and mottled with the richest 
brown. It really, then, consists of two tubes, one 
on top of the other, leading to the body of the 
clam ; and if you observe the openings closely, 
you will see a current of water flowing into one of 
them, and another current pouring as steadily out 
of the other. These currents are produced by the 
tremulous motion of innumerable minute hairs 
{cilia) that line the interior of the animal. The 
extensile and contractile double tube is termed the 
siphon, and the currents siphoned currents. 

The anatomy of the clam, like that of nearly all 
bivalved mollusks, is very simple. Forcing them 
open, we find that the two halves of the shell are 


held together by a pair of strong muscles, but if 
the animal would keep his doors quite closed he 
must exert a continued effort, since immediately 
beneath the hinge, occupying a little cup-shaped 
projection like a bracket, is an elastic substance 
which acts to throw the valves a little apart when 
the muscles are relaxed, just as a piece of India- 
rubber squeezed into the hinge of a door, would 
tend to open it as soon as the pressure was re- 
moved. Having taken off one valve, we find lining it 
— and the other as well — a thin membrane called 
the mantle. The scalloped border which follows 
the edges of the shells is thickened and united, ex- 
cept a small slit through which the " foot" projects 
at the end opposite the siphon. The foot is a 
tough and muscular organ serving as an excavator. 
Within the mantle are the curtain-like gills, be- 
tween which lie the muscles that operate the foot 
and siphon, the abdomen and the viscera, which 
form the principal edible part. The mouth is just 
under the forward transverse muscle, and opens 
almost directly into the stomach. The intestine, 
after several turns, goes back directly through the 
heart to its orifice near the mouth. The ordinary 
length of the shell is about three inches, but it is 
not uncommon to find it much larger, while the 
siphon may be projected fully a foot. 

In this country the soft clams are found from 
South Carolina to the Arctic Ocean — where the 


walrus, polar bear and Arctic fox feed upon them 
whenever they have a chance. It is scarce south 
of Cape Hatteras, and most abundant on the New 
England coast. It occurs on the northern coasts 
of Europe as far south as England and France : on 
the north-eastern coast of Asia, in Japan and in 
Alaska. It is therefore essentially a northern spe- 
cies, and had the same general distribution as far 
back as the pliocene and miocene ages of geology. 
The soft clams are everywhere denizens of the 
beach between tide marks. The soil that suits 
them best is sand, with a large admixture of gravel 
or mud, but all sorts of places are occupied, where 
the water is sufficiently brackish, and it is possible 
for them to burrow. The specimens that live on 
on the outer sandy beaches have a much whiter, 
thinner and more regular shell than those found in 
estuaries ; they are often really delicate in texture, 
and covered, even when full grown, with a thin, 
yellowish epidermis, making a striking difference 
between them and the homely, rough, mud-colored 
specimens usually seen in the markets. Now, as 
in 1616, when Captain John Smith wrote, "You 
shal scarce find any Baye, Shallow Shore or Cove 
of sand, wyere you may take many Clampes," 
these mollusks are very numerous. More than a 
hundred, of different sizes, are said to be some- 
times dug from a single square foot of ground in 
Boston Harbor. 


On such beaches as I have mentioned, the 
young clam, as soon as old enough, turns his head 
down, and pushing out his foot, which he can fold 
into various shapes, — "now a dibble or spade, a 
trepan or pointed graving tool, a hook, a sharp 
wedge," — he digs his way straight down, six or 
eight inches into the sand, leaving stretched be- 
hind him his siphonal tubes, to keep up his com- 
munication with the surface. When the water 
over him is deep, the siphons are thrust well out ; 
when shallow, as in some tide pool, only the fringe of 
short tentacles is visible above the closely impacted 
mud ; and when, as happens most of the time, in 
the case of those clams whose home is near high- 
tide mark, there is no water over him at all, his 
tubes are withdrawn wholly into the sand. 

Confined in his burrow, deep in the earth, the 
clam cannot roam in search of food. It is, there- 
fore, to bring sustenance to it, that the tubes are 
pushed up into the sea, and the cilia set in motion. 
A current of water is sucked in, bearing micro- 
scopic particles as aliment for the stomach, and 
bringing oxygen to revivify the bloood brought 
into contact with it in the gills. Its burden un- 
loaded, the available residue of the water flows out 
through the discharging siphon, carrying with it 
all excrementitious matter. A continuous current 
is thus kept up. It is never long " between drinks" 
with this bivalve, which may, perhaps, account for 
the origin of the adage, " happy as a clam." 


The spawning-season, according to the fisher- 
men, occurs in June and July. The eggs, issuing 
from the ovaries of the female, find their way into 
the cavities of the outer gills, where they are 
fructified. There they develop until the eggs are 
furnished with little, triangular, vellum-like shells 
just large enough to see, which are discharged by 
thousands into the water, and left to take care of 
themselves. How long it is before they reach a 
sufficient size to settle down in life and construct a 
burrow for themselves, is unknown — probably not 
a great while. It is doubtful, indeed, whether one 
in a hundred ever fulfils that domestic ambition 
before being swallowed by some one of the num- 
berless aquatic birds, fishes and crabs, that are on 
the lookout for just such tid-bits. Nevertheless, 
the little clams do their " level best," anchoring 
themselves by a slender thread to the bottom, and 
holding on against the currents with all their 
might. Alas ! that so many of these brave little 
fellows must perish in their youth ! 

Beds of soft clams are sometimes of vast ex- 
tent, and are usually found in sheltered parts of the 
coast, where the action of the waves is not sufficiently 
strong seriously to disturb the beach. The inside 
of the long, sandy neck connecting Nahant with 
Lynn, for example, is filled with them, while on the 
outside, where the surf pounds, not one is to be 
found. They are sought at low tide, betraying 


their hiding-places, by squirting water up when the 
sand is shaken or pressed. That is the spot to 
drive in your spade. From the days of the May- 
flower hogs have had sagacity enough to discover 
the situation of the buried bivalves at low water, 
and to root them out and devour them. Two hun- 
dred and fifty years ago old Thomas Morton had 
found that this diet " makes the swine prove ex- 
ceedingly/' and Long Island farmers are still of 
the same opinion. Such clams as have been un- 
lucky enough to be washed, and cast high up by 
some rude breaker, are quickly seized upon by 
gulls, cormorants, crows, and other large birds that 
frequent the shore. During the winter months, 
when ice is often piled high upon the northern 
beaches, the clams bury themselves more deeply 
than ordinary, and get along as well as they can. 
They seem able to endure great cold without harm. 
Professor Agassiz found within their shells icicles, 
which did not incommode them in the least. 

Leaving for a later paragraph the value of the 
soft clams as a means of human sustenance, let me 
speak here of its utility as bait. Our fishermen 
very long ago learned that most carnivorus fishes, 
and the cod in particular, have a special fondness 
for the various species of Mya, the codfish of New- 
foundland Banks, relying very largely for nour- 
ishment upon a species allied to our edible Mya 
arenia. It occurred to them, therefore, that it 


would be worth while to take our soft clams to the 
Banks with them, and the experiment met with such 
success, that at present more than fifty thousand 
bushels are employed annually for bait in the cod 
and mackerel fisheries. The clams are used either 
alive or salted. In the former case they are envel- 
oped in netting-bags, and kept in the wells with 
which many of the vessels are provided. If the 
voyage is to be a short one, the clams may be pre- 
served alive for a considerable period by being 
kept in a cool place, and stores of ice are now taken 
on some vessels for this purpose. The majority of 
the bait, however, consists of the animals removed 
from the shell, salted and packed in barrels, and 
much of it is not the edible species, but an inferior 
one, known to the fishermen as the "skimmer." 
Salted clams are also used with success in the 
mackerel-fisheries, according to Lieutenant Broca, 
where they are used, like the roe of the animal, to 
attract the fish. 

Thus much for the soft-clam, long clam, nanny- 
nose, maninose, sickissuog, or Mya arenaria y as 
you please to call it. 

FISHES. 119 

Classification of Fishes. 

The great class of fishes is divisible into two 
great groups, each including a vast number of spe- 
cies. One of the two great groups was known an- 
ciently as the Teleosts — from the two Greek words 
teleost complete, and osteon a bone, on account of 
their having bony skeletons. The other classifi- 
cations are the Ctneoids and Ganoids. Ga- 
noid fishes were created or in existence long 
before the Teleosts, and anciently were of strange 
and varied forms ; at present they are few in num- 
bers and restricted in their localities; the most 
widely distributed type of the Ganoids is the stur- 
geon. In the first of these two great classes — 
Teleosts; — we find the percids or perches, a family 
very numerous in genera and species, and to be 
found in the waters of all temperate and tropical 
countries. They are gregarious, carnivorous and 
voracious, biting readily at the baited hook. 
Another branch of this family of Percidaeor perches 

120 FISHES. 

are the Labracius or true bass, all excellent 
food fishes; included in this family is the well- 
known Rocus. The Roceus includes the rock fish 
or striped bass of the sea, and only ascends rivers 
to spawn, and the white bass which were originally 
confined to the great lakes and Mississippi system 
of waters, and now descends to the salt water. In 
the family of Percidse, also, are included the black 
basses, all in high repute for excellence as food as 
well as for the vigor of the "play" and the sport 
they afford to the angler; also included in this 
genus are the fresh water trout, the salmon and 
chub; all are voracious, bold biters and take with 
savage earnestness live bait as well as the spoon. 

In the family of the Percidae will be found Cy- 
prinids, which include the carp and gold-fish, the 
shiner, dace and roach. The shiners and dace are 
favorite subjects for the exercise of juvenile skill in 
piscatorial pursuits ; in this family are the silurids 
or cat-fish. There is hardly a pond or river of the 
temperate and tropical regions of the globe in 
which they cannot be found. Their varieties are the 
u blue," " silvery," mud and stone cats, and " chan- 
nel cats;" some of the latter have been caught in 
the Western rivers weighing two hundred pounds. 
Although cat-fish are contemptuously repudiated 
by many, they are really an excellent food fish, 
especially the " channel cats." 

FISHES. 121 


Nearly all marine and fluviated products, 
whether mollusks, crustaceans or fishes proper, are 
easily digested, nutritious and palatable articles of 
food, most of them, especially the fishes, contain 
a special element — phosphorus, that is an import- 
ant ingredient in the osseous (bony) and cerebral 
(jbrai?i) tissues of animals, giving rise when used 
as food to great mental force and activity in those 
who largely subsist upon them. Civilized nations 
cannot do without this important fish aliment 
without detriment, and it is indispensable to the 
peasantry and laboring classes of all countries. 

The flesh of fish is as nutritious as that of 
pork, and it is estimated that ioo pounds of fish- 
flesh contains as much nutriment as 200 pounds of 
wheat bread, or 700 pounds of potatoes. 



Pisciculture among the Ancients. 

The Fish. 

Fishes, from the earliest ages, have been ob- 
jects of interest to the philosopher as well as to the 
the people at large, and the mystery in which their 
habits are enshrouded, by the element in which 
they live, has rather enhanced the curiosity excited 
by their appearance, and has lent much of the zeal 
which the sportsman experiences in pursuit of 
them. As is usual, too, with respect to subjects which 
are difficult of observation, romance and fable has 
lent their charms to invest these beings with marvel- 
lous properties, both of body and intelligence, and 


truth and fiction are so mingled in the accounts 
given of their habits by the ancients, that the two 
are, in some cases, separable with great difficulty. 
Yet the ancients were, in truth, perhaps, better ac- 
quainted than the moderns with the habits of some 
fishes ; for never has the taste for fish been carried 
to such extreme, and never has it been gratified at 
such expense as in ancient Rome. The exorbitant 
prices commanded by fishes which fulfilled certain 
arbitrary requisites as to condition and size, nat- 
urally directed to them much attention, and fish 
ponds were formed at enormous cost, while the 
fishes destined for them were sought for in distant 
ports, and transported to the ponds or preserves of 
Roman senators and noblemen, to be fattened for 
the table, and to propagate their race, and afford a 
supply of the desired luxury in the finest condi- 
tion. Pisciculture was indeed carried on in those 
days with zeal and success, and much could be 
learned from the experience of that age ; but zeal- 
ous and skillful as were the ancients, the device of 
transplanting, or artificially fecundating the ova, 
and rearing the fishes from the egg seems to have 
been totally unknown to them. 


Fish-raising, for economical as well as orna- 
mental purposes, has been practiced from time im- 


memorial by the Chinese, and gold fish, so familiar 
as an ornament of the parlor or drawing-room will 
be recalled as one of those species for which we 
are indebted to that singular people. Sports or 
monstrosities of the gold fish have been cultivated 
with great success by them, almost innumerable 
varieties having been obtained, and eighty-nine 
have been illustrated by a French naturalist, M. de 
Savigny, in a special work entitled " Historie Na- 
turelle des Doraeds de la Chine." These rarities 
well show how much nature can be controlled by 
man, as forms destitute of certain fins, and possess- 
ing others' double or even more hypertrophied, 
have been secured and perpetuated. The expe- 
rience of a people which have succeeded in such 
efforts would be interesting as well as instructive, 
but that hitherto furnished has been too vague. 
They however, avail themselves of the fry which 
have just escaped from the egg, as well as the eggs 
themselves, and carry on a considerable commerce 
in both. 

" When the fry have been taken from the water 
they are as soon as possible put into copper ves- 
sels, which are then covered with thin cloth. These 
vessels should be three-quarters filled with wa- 
ter, which is changed three times a day — morn- 
ing, noon, and evening. While this is being 
done, a very fine gauze cover is used to prevent 
the little fishes escaping from the vessel. Ex- 


posure to the sun is to be avoided ; the vessels 
should not be disturbed, and as soon as any of the 
fishes die, they should be removed. 

" The daily food is supplied by the yolk of 
eggs, which are boiled and mashed up fine. The 
fishermen advise that the vessel should not be ex- 
posed to storms or rain. 

" Fish can in this way be kept for two or three 

" When it is desired to stock a body of water, it 
is only necessary to place the little fishes in weedy 
situations, or it w r ill even suffice to throw them in 
the middle of the water, without any precaution. 
The fry of each species of fish wanders under the 
guidance of the mother, who does not abandon 
her offspring until they are quite large. The fry 
of the ' Kia-you? (' home or domestic fish') does not 

We have also accounts of European travellers, 
extending as far back as the first half of the last 
century, from it would appear that the Chinese had 
long been accustomed to secure the eggs of various 
fishes, and that they raised the fishes directly from 
the egg. Duhalde, a Jesuit father, who published 
an account of his travels in the year 1735 made 
known that not far from the town Kieou-king-fou, 
in the river Yang-tsze Kiang, very numerous boats 
came from all quarters in the spring to obtain the 
spawn of fishes. To secure this spawn, the men* 


devoted to the search for it partially dam the river 
in certain places, for a distance of nine or ten 
leagues, with mats and hurdles, leaving only suffi- 
cient space for the passage of boats. The spawn 
is arrested in its descent by these barriers, and thus 
secured. Much of this spawn is said to be at first 
undistinguishable by the unaccustomed eye, but 
those engaged in the fishery readily recognize it, 
and placing the water containing it in jars, offer it 
for sale. As may be supposed, it is not certain in 
all cases what particular fishes the ova thus ob- 
tained may give birth to. 


Pisciculture seems to have been considerably 
practiced in Europe during the middle ages, and 
especially by the monks, who relieved the monotony 
of their seclusion by attention to the agricultural 
and other useful arts, as well as by literary studies. 
It has been claimed that some of the most esteem- 
ed fishes now abundant in the fresh waters of En- 
gland were introduced during that period ; but 
such accounts are very problematical, and it is 
probable that most, if not all, had existed there at 
least from the dawn of the present geological 
epoch. However this may be, it is certain that 
species were introduced into new continental wa- 
ters, and that the monks laid out ponds and raised 

P IS C I C U L TUR E . 127 

therein, in conformity with regular rules, several 
esteemed fishes, whose habits best suited them for 
rearing in such preserves. Chief of those were 
the carp and tench. The pike was also frequently 
introduced to check the excessive multiplication of 
the herbivorous species. Artificial fecundation was, 
however, unknown to the monks, and its discovery 
is little more than a century old. 


Jacobi having recognized the nature of the sex- 
ual relations of the fishes, and that the female, 
when spawning, was followed by the male, who 
dropped his melt over the ova of his companion, 
and thus fertilized them, inferred that nature may 
be imitated and assisted by man. He therefore 
took a clean wooden bucket or shallow tub, and 
emptied into it a pint of clear water. Taking then 
a female salmon whose ova were mature, he ex- 
pressed them by a gentle pressure of the hand 
down the abdomen, and treated a male fish in the 
same manner, discharging his melt over the ova. 


In 1768, Spallanzani, in the course of his phy- 
siological experiments, successfully practiced arti- 
ficial fecundation in the case of the frog, an animal 


of analogous habits. Adanson, the celebrated nat- 
uralist and African traveller, was also acquainted 
with the principles of artificial fecundation, and in 
a course of public lectures, delivered at the Jardin 
du Roi, in 1772, clearly explained the principles 
and modus operandi. 

Expressing the ova from a female fish; the melt of the 
male is obtained by a similar process. 

Joseph Remy, a fisherman of La Bresse, an 
illiterate man, but of observant habits and reflec- 


tive mind, fearing lest his calling should be inter- 
rupted by the threatened extinction of the trout, 
the capture of which afforded him a livelihood, and 
like Jacobi, reasoning upon the sexual relations of 
the fishes, conceived the idea of artificial fecunda- 
tion. Associating with himself a companion, An- 
toine Gehin, the two, after long and patient en- 
deavors enlisted the sympathy and active co-oper- 
ation of several influential men in their district, and 
prosecuted the, to them, new art with skill and 


Lest some misapprehension may prevail re- 
specting the objects and aims of pisciculture, it 
may be here remarked that all it can do is to assist 
nature by the selection of the most favorable situa- 
tions and conditions for the maturation of the ova, 
and the protection of them and of the fry from the 
attacks of the numerous enemies which threaten 


The process necessary for artificial fecundation 
and propagation is very simple ; the ripe female 
and a male fish are obtained. The fish should be 
firmly seized by the hand, and the other hand 
passed over the abdomen gently but firmly, when 
the ova of the female and the melt of the male 


will be easily squeezed out, the ova and melt thus 
intermingled in an ordinary vessel and brought to 
the hatching-house to await development, incuba- 
tion occurs very rapidly, usually in four or five 
• days. The young fish upon being hatched are mere 
mingling threads, with an almost imperceptible 
head, but they are wonderfully agile in their move- 
ments. The eggs when first taken, are small trans- 
parent globules. They gradually swell and if they 
have been impregnated by the melt of the male, upon 
the second day after such contact, a brown speck 
will show itself in the egg; and in a couple of days 
more will be swimming around like a vitalized 
hair. A considerable portion of the eggs die, and 
the dead ones can always be recognized by their 
becoming perfectly opaque. Many females deposit 
several millions of eggs, the computation of the 
number being accurately ascertained by spread- 
ing a definite number in a certain space and comput- 
ing accordingly. 


Having secured the eggs of certain fishes and 
fecundated them, these may be transferred to re- 
ceptacles for hatching them ; various patterns have 
been recommended, but the principles followed 
are essentially the same in all. A fountain of clear 
running water — a spring is preferable — from which 
a stream flows, or may be led, is selected ; and if 

P IS C I CU L T U RE. 131 

there is a gradual fall or descent, so much the bet- 
ter. A series of boxes, through which the water 
will flow, are placed in the position to be fed by 
the stream, and the floor of each box is covered 
with gravel or pebbles, which may furnish a bed 
for the deposit of the spawn. 

The salmon or trout will not live in every 
stream, but there are many species which, though 
inferior to those royal fishes, are nevertheless very 
savory and estimable as food, which could with 
advantage be propagated in many ponds or 
streams now producing nothing of value, and even 
regarded as a nuisance, entailing the loss of so 
much arable land. In Europe, and especially in 
Germany and France, submerged land is almost or 
quite as valuable as that which is tillable ; and in 
some situations, alternate crops of corn or vegeta- 
bles and fish are cultivated. The land after years of 
cultivation showing signs of exhaustion, is flooded 
by water, and converted into ponds in which fishes 
or their own fertilized spawn are distributed, yield- 
ing in due time a fruitful progeny. In a few years 
the water is drained off and the fish sold, frequent- 
ly affording more profit than the land when culti- 
vated. In England, likewise, a body of water is 
almost, if not quite, as profitable as an equal ex- 
tent of dry land ; and, it may be added, the same 
is the case with China. The time is not far distant 
when our waters, too, will be utilized like those of 

i 3 2 P IS CI C U L TURE. 

Europe and China ; and in view of this contingen- 
cy, it will be well for us to study our native fishes, 
as well as to inquire what, among foreign species, 
may be rendered most subservient to our needs, 
and be propagated with the most advantage, or be 
the most useful and savory for the table, and, at 
the same time, involve the least expense in culti- 

The artificial propagation of edible fishes* 
is shown by experiments in every quarter to be 


The Chinese, who keep a constant supply of 
fish in their rivers and canals, notwithstanding the 
unexampled density of their population, have prac- 
ticed fish-hatching successfully for centuries. Fish 
are there so cheap that a penny will buy enough 
for a breakfast for a small family. An inge- 
nious method of artificial hatching has been 
adopted, which is worthy of mention, at least 
as a novelty. The business of collecting and 
hatching the spawn for the supply of own- 
ers of private ponds is extensive. When 
the season for hatching arrives, the operators 
empty hens' eggs by means of small openings, 
sucking out the natural contents and substituting 
the ova. The eggs are placed for a few days un- 
der a hen. Removing the eggs, the contents are 

PIS CI C UL T U R E. 133 

placed in water warmed by the heat of the sun, 
the eggs soon burst, and the young are shortly 
able to be removed to waters intended for rearing 

Mr. Seth Green, Livingston Co., New York 
gives minute directions for the care of the ova of 
trout, the mode of packing for transportation, and 
the proper management in hatching. He is able 
to send the eggs to any part of the country, or to 
Europe, without loss, packing in moss within a tin 
bucket, which is placed in another vessel, with 
sawdust between them to guard against sudden 
changes of temperature. 

" Large ponds with but little water get too 
warm in summer and too cool in winter for trout 
to do well. It is detrimental to have any other 
fish with trout. Any kind of fish or fish spawn is 
good for feed. The young should be fed twice 
per day, very slowly; if fed fast the feed sinks and 
befouls the trough, and the trout will sicken and 
die. If fed regularly and the trough kept clean, 
with a good change of water, and not kept too 
thick, they will live and do well. If neglected they 
will surely die. 

" The sun, sediment, rats, mice, snails, crawfish, 
and many water insects are death to spawn. Use 
fine gravel that has no iron rust in it. The troughs 
should be three inches higher at the head. The 
average temperature of the water is forty-five de- 

i 3 4 PISCICUL T U R E. 

grees, and the fish hatch in seventy days. Every 
degree colder or warmer will make about six days' 
difference in hatching. Trout hatch the soonest 
in warm water. The sac on their bellies sustains 
them for forty or forty-five days after hatching, then 
they need food. 

"The fish, after hatching, should be fed twice 
daily for two or three months, then once a day — the 
grown fish once a day or oftener. For the young 
fish, liver should be scraped and chopped very fine 
and mixed with water, to give it about the consis- 
tency of clotted blood. Toss this to the fish a 
little at a time, so that they can catch and devour 
it before it reaches the bottom of the trough ; no 
more should be given than the fish will eat, be- 
cause if any is left it will settle to the bottom and 
foul the water, and the fish will sicken and die. 
The fish may be fed on curds, fish offal, or other 
animal matter, provided it be small enough for 
them to swallow." 

Trout breeding easy. — A family supply of trout 
may be attained with small expense and little la- 
bor by any intelligent owner of a brisk spring of 
never-failing cold water, if the location is so shel- 
tered as to avoid the risk of overflow from sur- 
face drainage. Deep, narrow ponds in ravines 
protected from the sun's rays, and supplied by 
spring water through an inch pipe, may suffice for 
a few specimens, and serve to amuse and instruct 


the amateur proprietor ; a fountain capable of fill- 
ing constantly a two inch pipe will sustain a trout 
preserve which may prove a source of pleasure and 

In October or November go to a trout brook 
and walk softly along those parts of it that are 
gravelly and have running water. Peep under the 
banks and the dead logs until you see a pair of 
trout lying close together, their heads to the cur- 
rent. With a hand net, dexterously used, both 
may be captured, and transferred to a pail of water. 
The female is seen to be the stouter; she has a less 
projecting under jaw, and her fins are not so red. 
'Take her up tenderly,' and do not go poking a 
clumsy thumb into her gills. Pass the finger and 
thumb with a gentle pressure along the abdominal 
region, and if the fish is ' ripe/ the eggs will flow 
out freely. They should be received in a pan of 
water. Put the female back; take out the male 
and press him in like manner, and allow the ex- 
pressed milky fluid to fall into the same pan. Stir 
the water with the hand, cover it, and allow it to 
stand for half an hour. At the end of that time 
the eggs which had stuck fast to the sides will be- 
come free and roil about. Now gently spread the 
eggs on the gravel of the trough, and the primary 
work is done. Should the female not prove ripe, 
keep her a few days in a pool or spring-hole. The 
fish thus captured for breeders should not be set 

136 PIS CI C U L T U RE. 

free, but kept in a suitable pool till the next season. 
Such a preserve may easily be made by digging 
out a place a dozen feet square and three feet deep 
grating the inlet and outlet, and leading a stream 
of water through it. The breeding fish here kept 
will feed voraciously, and will eat refuse scraps of 
meat, insects, caterpillars, clotted milk, hasty pud- 
ding boiled with milk, and small minnows. Thus 
fed, once or twice a day, they grow rapidly, and a 
half-pound fish will get to a pound in a year. 
Meantime, the eggs are growing also, and in their 
way. After three or four weeks two dark specks 
appear on each egg } and these, when held to the 
light, are seen to be the eyes of the embryo, show- 
ing through the translucent shell. This is a good 
time to pack eggs for transportation. Take a tin 
box, the size and shape of a pint measure, collect 
also a good handful of peat moss, {sphagnum) and 
wash it clean. Lay a stratum of wet moss in the 
bottom of the box, and cover the same with a fold 
of the gauze called ■ musquito bar.' On this gauze 
spread gently a single layer of eggs, and cover 
them with a second fold of musquito bar. Then 
put more moss, and another layer of eggs in like 
manner, and thus continue until the box is full. 
Put on a cover with a few holes in it, pack the tin 
in a case of sawdust, and the eggs are good for a 
month without opening. When they are unpack- 
ed take the moss off the top, then lift them out by 


the gauze, and place them in the hatching-trough. 
It will be found that they have developed almost 
as much in the wet moss as they would have done 
in the water. The tiny embryo may be seen jerk- 
ing itself uneasily in its spherical prison ; a move- 
ment that continues to increase until, after two or 
three months from impregnation, according to 
the temperature of the water, the creature bursts 
its shell and appears in all its grandeur, looking, 
to say the truth, more like a spiritual polliwog 
than a real salmonide. This polliwog's character 
arises from the great yolk sac, or, rather call it, 
havresac, for it bears the thirty days' rations of 
this recruit. All that time he lies still without 
foraging. But thereafter we must issue to him, for 
now he appears as a genteel minnow, with bars on 
his sides. Twice or thrice a day a little clotted 
milk, rubbed very fine in water, must be put in the 
trough, and the fry may be seen eagerly to swal- 
low the floating particles. With enough food, 
room, and watet they will grow fast, and will take 
larger and larger morsels. At a year old they may 
be somewhat larger or much smaller, according to 
their treatment. Their increase will depend on 
depth of water, and quantity and variety of food." 


Fish are divided into fish of prey and peaceful 
fish, and these into the orders piscifagi or fish- 


eating fish, insectivori or insect-eating fish, and 
phytophagi or plant- eating fish. Thus it will be 
seen fish require a variety of food. The pike 
chiefly lives on fish, the perch on fish and insects 
and the carp on plants and insects. The inference 
will readily be, that these several kinds of fish 
should not be placed together, where fish-breeding 
is the object, for the fish of prey will devour the 
others. In some cases, fish of prey, the pike, are 
desirable in fish ponds, that are over-stocked. 
They devour the small and worthless fish. The 
diet of the carp is varied, consisting of worms, 
larvae of insects, &c, but in some localities, it can 
subsist exclusively on vegetable food, being espe- 
cially fond of water cresses and other sudfculent 
water plants. This fish may be made very tame 
in a short time and may be taught to eat from the 
hand, come to the side of the pond by a cer- 
tain call, and to follow one around the pond. 
Carp are sometimes kept and fed in cold weather 
in a cellar. They are wrapped up in a quantity of 
wet moss, laid on a piece of net, then laid in a 
purse. The net is then plunged into water and 
hung to the ceiling of the cellar. The dipping 
must be repeated every four or five hours ; for its 
food bread soaked in milk may be given it in small 
quantities. In a short time, they will eat more, 
and grow fat by this treatment. 



Nearly all fishes are male and female. So far 
as we know there are only three species of her- 
maphrodites, in which the male and female organs 
are found united in one and the same individual. 

There are three typical forms of female organs 
or ovaries in fish. One form consists of one or 
two masses of eggs enclosed in a cellular bag, like 
the ovaries of birds, from which they escape into 
and are expelled through the intestinal canal. 

The second form, which is the most common 
amon| fish, consists of two sacs, each containing 
thousands of eggs, from which they escape and 
are expelled externally through a tube or oviduct, 
and thirdly, in some the ovaries are two long- 
twisted canals or ribbons running parallel along 
both sides of the intestines with an external orifice. 

The eggs of fishes, like those of other animals, 
in their earliest development are of microscopic 
size, and consist of a transparent yolk, which en- 
closes the germinal cell. Upon the side of the 
disk or cell-wall the embryo or young fish is 
formed, to which the yolk serves as food. When 
the egg has entered the oviduct it becomes covered 
with a layer of gelatinous matter. The fecundation 
of the egg consists in the entry of the vivifying cor- 


puscle or spermatozoon into the egg and its vivi- 
fying influence. 

In viviparous fishes, those that produce their 
young alive, the fecundative act takes place or is 
effected inside of the body of the fish, as in all 
other viviparous and quadrupedal animals, but in 
the great majority of fishes the fecundative act is 
effected outside the body of the fish, in the sur- 
rounding water. During the spawning season the 
male fish pursues and is the constant companion of 
the female, and, as she ejects her eggs in the water, 
he simultaneously deposits the vivifying melt upon 
them, and they are fecundated, and thus can arti- 
ficial fecundation be accomplished, and be made 
successfully practicable. * 

Not only physically is the eel the most notori- 
ously slippery animal know r n, but his or her sexual 
anatomy for centuries baffled and defied the most 
skillful anatomists, and put at naught the savants 
and philosophers of every school and age. 

Aristotle, who lived four hundred years before 
Christ, and the greatest naturalist of antiquity, pro- 
nounced the eel, " born of worms produced from 
mud." Pliny, who lived in the first century, main- 
tained that the eel rubs itself against rocks, and 
that the fragments of its skin rubbed off become 
young eels. Rondelet, as late as the sixteenth 
century, asserted that " eels are produced from 
putrified matter." Malpighi, in the seventeenth 


century, the greatest anatomist and microscopist of 
his day, considered them " fatty productions," and 
called them, " striae adiposae." Thus it has taken 
over two thousand years to find out the true nature 
and anatomy of the eel, and to demonstrate that 
they are viviparous, or produce their young alive. 

The flesh of eels is a valuable food, and salted, 
smoked or pickled, is an article of commerce in 
some countries. 

The male organs of fishes consist of the "milts," 
which secrete the small organic bodies known as 
spermatozoa, which moving about penetrate the 
egg, whether in the cavity of the female (uterus,) 
or external to her body, in the water, and which 
fructify it, and cause the development of the em- 
bryo. In the greater number of fishes these organs 
consist of two elongated bodies, of several com- 
partments, more or less triangular; by gradual 
converging they unite and form a single canal or 
duct, known as the "vas deferens." These two by 
their union form a single excretory canal, which 
opens into the urethra, and which has its orifice 

While artificial fecundation fulfils the chief 
requisites for the propagation of some fishes, there 
are others for which it cannot be employed 
with advantage. Some will only exercise this 
function by resorting to natural beds. The 
construction of an artificial spawning bed is a very 

142 PIS CI C UL T U R E. 

simple matter. A framework of sticks or laths 
should be made, and to such a framework, boughs, 
furze and aquatic plants should be fastened by- 
cords, in such a way as to form an irregular struc- 
ture. They should be held to the bottom of the 
water by stones and fastened to a stake or post to 
prevent drifting. Upon these the fish will deposit 
their eggs. 

By this simple contrivance we are enabled to 
restock our streams and introduce new species, and 
the many ponds and streams now valueless, and 
even a nuisance, could be made to furnish abund- 
ance of elegant fish food. In Germany and France 
submerged land is quite as valuable as that which 
is tillable, and in some localities alternate crops of 
corn, vegetables and fish are cultivated. The land 
upon showing signs of exhaustion from cultivation, 
is flooded by water and converted into ponds, in 
which fishes or their fertilized spawn are deposited, 
yielding in due time a bountiful crop of excellent 
fish, often yielding upon sale, more than any other 
crop raised upon the land. 


Where do fish annually go and come from has 
been a mystery and a question from the earliest 

PIS CI C U L T URiE. 143 

Every spring countless millions of herrings 
may be seen approaching the coast, followed by 
schools of whales and porpoises, and the sea is 
often green for miles from the endless mass of fish 
agitating its surface. It has long been a theory, 
tenaciously maintained by Dutch and Irish fisher- 
men that the home of the herring is in the 
great polar sea, not only because they were seen 
annually to come from that direction, but as they 
are the chief and special food of the whale, seal and 
porpoise whose homes are in the Arctic seas, the in- 
ference was strengthened that it was also their hab- 
itat. This theory is now known to be fallacious, 
for it would be impossible for it to live deep under 
the ice in the Polar sea, and much less spawn, as 
the roe would then miss the essential conditions for 
its development, light and warmth. 

The generally accepted theory at present is, 
that herrings have their special dwelling places in 
the sea, which it does not leave except when it ap- 
proaches the coast for the purpose of spawning ; 
that neither the structure of their muscles nor fins 
adapt it for long or transatlantic voyages. 

There is likewise proof that the herring lives in 
very deep water, for in the stomachs of herrings 
will be found fragments of crustaceous animals 
that only live in very deep water, as deep as 1 800 
feet, never less than 360 feet. The Euchaeta is the 
favorite food of the herring, and they are only 


found at a depth of between 2000 and 2500 feet. 
Wherever their dwelling may be it is a well-known 
fact that they regularly annually approach the 
coast and shores of both continents to perform the 
important function of spawning — to deposit their 
millions of eggs, and it is at their period of their 
advent to our shores, the spring fisheries, then 
they are captured in countless numbers; at this pe- 
riod its instinctive desire to deposit its eggs, to 
propagate its species dominates for the time over 
all other desires, even over that for food, for it cannot 
find suitable food in the shallow waters of the 
coasts and rivers ; in these localities it seeks places 
against which it can press its abdomen, and by this 
means facilitate the flow of spawn, the expulsion of 
their eggs. So anxious are they to get rid of their 
burden of eggs, that they do not avoid the fisher- 
ermen's net to entrap them, but apparently seek 
these nets, through the meshes of which they force 
or squeeze their bodies, thus mechanically receiv- 
ing assistance in the parturient act. The ova in 
the average female herring will amount to 68,000, 
in some they will number 100,000. 

During the great migratory journey of the her- 
ring they are attended by clouds of different kinds 
of sea-gulls, who pounce down upon the feeble and 
dead fish and devour them, and close at hand are 
vast numbers of whales and cod-fish. The whales 
invariably keep on the outside along the edges, and 


in the rear of the great herring school, never at- 
tempting to penetrate any further, but the cod-fish 
takes his place immediately beneath the school ; 
thus are the poor herrings menanced and environed 
during their long journey by persecuting and ra- 
pacious foes in sea and air. 

As before stated, the great purpose of this pe- 
riodical migration is to reach the shallow coasts, 
bays and rivers of the continent, for the purpose 
of depositing their eggs ; upon their arrival they 
seek flat places in shallow water, covered with 
rough gravel ; upon the emission of the roe it is 
firmly pasted to the gravelly bottom by a peculiar 
glutinous substance, which hardens in the course 
of half an hour. In the shell of each and every egg 
of this roe is a microscopic opening (micropyle) 
turned upward, so that the fructifying male secre- 
tion may enter easily, immediately upon the fe- 
ale herrings depositing £ind fixing their ova to the 
gravelly bottom. The male fishes that are always 
in attendance come forward, and deposit their milt 
upon the roe, and in due time young herrings are 
hatched out. 

The young herrings grow so rapidly that at one 
year of age they will be from two and a half to 
three and a half inches in length. During the first 
year they stay near where they are born. After 
this year they put out to sea to the home of their 
parents. As to the age at which the herring 

146 PIS CI C UL T U RE. 

spawns, it will be correct to state that they do not 
spawn until the fifth year of age, and are from seven 
to eight inches in size. In Norway small fry her- 
rings are converted into anchovies, and they are 
the only anchovies we get in the United States. 

These great herring fisheries are so important 
to localities and nations that any interruption to 
them is looked upon as a dire calamity ; so dread- 
ful are they to the minds of men, so presaging of 
suffering and want, that supernatural agency has 
been accused of being the cause of their failure of 
natural food. They were ascribed to the ven- 
geance of the Almighty. Sometimes special 
causes were assigned for the visitation of the 
Divine wrath. Absalom Pedersen Beyer thought 
that the herring fisheries failed because Cristopher 
Walkendcrph had taken tithes away from the 
clergy and used them for building purposes. And, 
as late as 1835, it was solemnly announced in the 
British Parliament that the herring had forsaken 
the coast because a priest had demanded tithes of 
his parishioners, and, when herring were scarce on 
the Dutch coast in 1830, it was proclaimed, that 
famine had come upon the land because some 
young men, in mere wantonness, had cruelly abused 
a herring, and, in Norway, in 1830, no wealthy 
citizen was allowed to hold a masked ball in his 
own house for fear that it would vex the Deity, and 
as a punishment He would cause the herrings to 
leave the coast. 

PIS CIC U L 7 URE. 147 

The manner of spawning of the codfish is dif- 
ferent from that of the herring. The codfish has 
no particular spawning ground or place. It drops 
its spawn indiscriminately in the sea in the vicinity 
of coasts. It does not sink and become fixed to 
the bottom like the herring's. The eggs float and 
drift about and are fructified by the melt of the 
male, and are hatched out on the surface of the 
open sea. As soon as hatched, the young cods 
begin to devour the peculiar-looking larvae of the 
Balamus with which the sea is at this time swarm- 
ing. The eggs of the codfish are of a light yel- 
lowish red and small in size. Upon the under sur- 
face of the shell is a dark spot, the micropyle, the 
opening through which they are vivified. The 
spermatozoa of the codfish are oval, pearl-shaped 
bodies, to which is attached a tail-like appendage. 
The melt of the male and the roe of the female 
are of less specific weight than the sea water. Con- 
sequently both float upon the surface and come 
unerringly in contact. The first effect of the eggs' 
fecundation are visible in a few hours, and ever 
changing phenomena appear until the sixteenth 
day when the egg is hatched and the young cod 
makes his escape, and immediately shows his 
peculiar gulping instincts, and snaps after micros- 
copic animals and algae. When they get older 
they live chiefly on herrings, of which they 
are especially fond, and which constitutes their 
chief diet. 


The vernal migration of shad to our coast an- 
nually is well known. They regularly make their 
journeys to the shallow bays and rivers in vast num- 
bers for the purpose of depositing their eggs, and 
this is the period of our great shad fisheries. When 
this is accomplished, they depart, leaving their 
young after them to grow. These, when 
old and strong enough to undertake the voyage 
to the home of their parents in the deep sea, also 
take their departure in immense schools. 

The greatest enemies of the shad and herring 
are the black bass and eels. They eat up the 
spawn and large numbers of the young of these 
fish. The eels fully equal if they do not exceed 
the black bass in their destructiveness of young 
shad and shad spawn, and they attack the grown 
shad in the nets in great droves. Gillers pulling 
in their nets find them weighted as if with a very 
heavy catch, and find them full of eels after the 
gilled shad. As many as a bushel of eels is fre- 
quently seen coiled around a gilled shad as the 
net is drawn up, and so quickly and ravenously is 
the shad eaten by them that it is said the bones 
are denuded and the shad a fleshless skeleton al- 
most before its struggles are over. 

Shad cannot be hatched successfully in water 
warmer than seventy-eight degrees, nor can shad 
spawn (eggs) be carried more than a two days' 

P IS C I CU L T U R E . 149 

All the waters of this country can be filled with 
fish adapted to them. Every acre of water is 
worth two acres of land if properly farmed. Spend 
one thousandth part of the sum spent in tilling the 
land in cultivating the water and fish may be sold 
in our markets at two cents per pound. 


We find numerous fishing regulations, from the 
oldest times, in ancient Saxon, German and other 
fishing legal enactments, viz. : An ancient Austrian 
law permitted the king's bailiff and the bailiff of 
the convent chapter to catch "a dish of fish on 
Fridays." Again, the fisherman is an appointee to 
a salaried office, and is not allowed to sell fish to 
any one, unless he has " called them three times on 
the bridge." Again, " Every person who sits at 
his own fire-place may fish in the stream with hook 
and line." " Servants who fish, without the 
company of their masters, are punishable." 

In Moravia, millers' wives are allowed to fish 
" every Thursday in the forenoon, and every Fri- 
day in the afternoon." 

In Germany, the Fishery Court is held every 
year, on the days of the Fishing Apostles, Philip 
and James, and on St. Peter's day, and a regular 
jury is empanelled. The Fish Court is opened by 
the judge, by solemnly asking, " Is this the right 


hour, day and time that I should open the Fish 
Court, as has been done from times of old?" The 
foreman of the jury answers, "Your honor, the 
judge of die Fish Court, since you ask me whether 
this be the right time that you should hold a Fish 
court in the country of Ost, I solemnly affirm that 
this is the day, hour, and time that such Fish 
Court should be held, seeing that this is St. 
James' Day." After this formal opening the court 
proceeds to business. 


Two sorts of Caviar are manufactured, fresh or 
grained caviar, and hard or pressed caviar ; in either 
case it is the roe or ova of the several kinds ofsturgeon 
sprinkled with clean fine salt, packed in casks the 
inside of which are covered with napkin linen; it is 
also exported in linen bags and tin boxes hermeti- 
cally sealed. In trade, the caviar made from the 
roe of the cod-fish is esteemed more highly than 
that from the sturgeon. 

The great consumers of caviar are the Rus- 
sians and Greeks, no lunch, repast or feast is ser- 
ved without it. 


This is the swimming-bladders of fishes, es- 
pecially that obtained from the sturgeon. Good 


Isinglass is white, shiny, half transparent, dry and 
horny, without taste, without colour, and it will dis- 
solve in water at from 100 to 120 Fahrenheit, 
without leaving" any residue if pure, and upon be- 
coming cold will be a transparent and almost color- 
less gelatine. Isinglass in very useful for clarify- 
ing various liquids, for making fine glue-colors, for 
giving a gloss and finish to textures, for making 
plasters, for taking the impress of coins and in our 
kitchens for making various jellies for table dessert. 


Oil is extracted from all portions of the fish, or 
from some particular portion ; it is used for illumi- 
nating, lubricating, drying, cooking and mechanical 
purposes. The so called Cod-Liver Oil used 
chiefly medicinally is proclaimed to be obtained 
from the livers of the cod-fish, but it is no exagger- 
ation to state that not one-thousandth part of the 
cod-liver oil of commerce is extracted from 
the fish liver, the majority of it is refuse grease 
and oils with a fishy odour artificially imparted 
to it. 

The Prominent Oyster, Canned Goods and Fruit-Packing 
Establishments of Baltimore. 


giHdqttffi WW 


Among the many industries of the day that have made im- 
mense progress in this country for the past few years is that 
of oyster and fruit packing. So great is it that at the present 
time the business now assumes proportions realized by few 
outside of those who are more or less identified with it. It 
would indeed be difficult to compute the vast amount of capi- 
tal invested in the handling of these articles of use and luxury 
and it is certain that it plays an important part in all the com- 
mercial centres, and the trade is considerably ahead of even 
the most sanguine expectations of far-seeing capitalists who 
embarked in the packing business years ago. 

Among the first, and one of the oldest and most reliable 
establishments of the kind in the United States, is the firm of 
H. F. Hemingway & Co., who have been successfully engaged 
in the business for more than thirty years. They have in con- 
nection with the above, branch houses in Rochester, Syracuse, 
Albany, JNew York City and Cincinnati, Ohio, besides their 
mammoth establishment at Clyde, New York, for the packing 
of their celebrated Genesee Valley Corn, which is one of their 
specialties and it is well known to be far superior to any packed 
in this country and is fast gaining notoriety abroad, and 
large quantities are shipped to all the principal European 
markets, and so popular is this one article alone that the works 
are run to their fullest capacity to pack enough to supply the 
demand. They also have other branch oyster-packing estab- 
lishments at Crisfleld, Md., Norfolk, Va., and one at New 
Haven, Conn., for summer and early trade and for the New 
England States ; thus it will be seen they have facilities en- 
joyed by few houses, if indeed by any in the country and the 
immense quantities of all kinds of canned goods packed and 
sold by them is evidence of their superior quality. Messrs. 
Hemingway & Co., are the proprietors of the celebrated "An- 
chor brand" of oysters which already enjoy a national reputa- 
tion and are considered superior to any in the American 
market, and are shipped daily to their branch houses and from 
them and Baltimore their agents in all parts of the country 
draw their supplies. One of the characteristic features of this 
firm is that they warrant all their goods to be exactly as rep- 
resented, hence the popularity of their productions and the 
high reputation they enjoy in all portions of the United States. 



Planter and Packer of 

Wharf, Cor. West and Jackson Sts., BALTIMORE, Md. 

This well known packing house is recognized as one of the 
most reliable establishments of its kind in Baltimore and the 
only one of the largest in the city that is controlled and owned 
wholly by any one individual, and has been in successful 
operation for the last nineteen years. 

The location of the same being one of the best in the city, 
situated as it is on the above wharf, where the oyster vessels 
discharge their cargoes within a few feet of the doors, the oys- 
ters being taken from the vessels arriving daily as they are 
needed by the many hands employed in opening them, thus 
avoiding any possible chance of having the oysters otherwise 
than perfectly fresh when packed for customers. 

Mr. Hitchcock has spent a lifetime in the business and 
makes the best grades of oysters a specialty. He owns large 
oyster beds in different parts of the Chesapeake Bay and its 
tributaries, having planted at one time on one of his beds in 
the Patuxent river, fifteen thousand bushels of oysters, and 
has men employed at those grounds planting and cultivating 
as well as boats working on the natural beds where oysters 
grow in their natural state, and as a cultivator and grower of 
oysters probably stands without a rival in the country, being 
thoroughly acquainted with all the oyster planting grounds 
from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. 

One great feature to be observed around this establish- 
ment is the neatness used in canning and packing the deli- 
cious flavored oysters which he ships, and the process that 
the oysters go through is such, that with the scrutiny given 
at the time they are taken from the shuckers' preparatory to 
packing it is impossible for them to be anything else than an 
article fit for epicures, on the thousands if not millions of 
tables on which they have been served for the last score of 
years, and the oysters shipped from this house now take the 
lead in 135 of the principal cities and towns in this country 
and Canadas. 

Independently of the oyster business, Mr. Hitchcock has 
in connection with the above, a department for the canning 
and packing of fruits and vegetables of all kinds, brought 
from the richest and best cultivated parts of the State, and the 
same test, namely, of public approval can be applied to this 
department as fairly as to the other. Everything is done 
which would tend to produce an article of a superior char- 
acter, no fruits being used except those which it is known will 
stand the process of handling and packing and not be affected 
in their strength and flavor, and nearly all these goods are taken 
by regular customers, who will handle none other than those 
that have stood the test of many years, and with this long 
business experience and reputation in supplying the country 
with both luxuries and necessaries, this house in question, 
bids fair to assume even more gigantic proportions. 

is V\ 


Fishing Tackle, 



NETS of All Sizes Made to Order. 


Dealer in and Shipper of all kinds of 


laid mi Soft 

17 Lexington Market, 17 & 18 Centre Market, 

1 Hanover Market, and 102 East Lombard St. 

As a dealer in and reliable shipper of all kinds of Fresh 
fish, hard and soft crabs, Mr. P. B. Smith has no superior 
in the trade. Consignments of fresh Fish and Crabs are daily- 
received by him, from the Chesapeake bay and Atlantic coast 
and are for sale at his stalls in the principal city markets. He 
makes daily, large shipments of them throughout the West. 
Persons desiring these luxuries can confidently rely upon 
having their orders filled promptly, and they will be guaran- 
teed as to their freshness and excellence. 



Ladies' & Gentlemen's 



190 "W. Pratt St., Baltimore. 

At this Restaurant every substantial and delicacy of the 
market can at all times be obtained, served in the most 
unobjectionable style. Oysters and Game of every kind daily 


Meals at all hours a la carte, 



1016 Penna. Ave. & Eleventh St., 



All brands of the finest oysters that the briny deep can produce 

are served with every imaginable dis?i that can 

be called for. 

Th.E LADIES' SALOON is one of the handsomest in all its 
appointments, and is conducted especially for them. 

Open from 6 A. M. until Midnight. Oysters, Terrapin & Game a Specialty. 

Harvey & Holden, Proprietors. 

"HARVEY" the Originator of the Steamed Oysters. 


%• $ 

^/. 4° 


^ v* 

0° '" ^ 

> r '\ 

> CV V 

</> ,^\ 

^> V 


,v < 

x 0c> 



^ ' 







>, v % *, 


** V % 



k V >, 

r^ /- 

w,sr??^ *